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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Notorious kidnappers arrested in Zamboanga province

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 17, 2014) – Philippines authorities are holding three men implicated in the series of kidnappings in Western Mindanao region.

The trio Abral Abdusalam, Rating Hadjirul and Kismir Hadjurul were arrested by police and military units in a house in the village of Timbang-Timbang in Zamboanga Sibugay’s Alicia town and are currently being interrogated.

They were tracked down in the house of Hadjirul where authorities also seized an M16 automatic rifle and a magazine, one fragmentation grenade, police and military uniforms and two mobile phones.

Police said Abral Abdusalam, a brother of a former Moro Islamic Liberation Front leader Waning Abdusalam, has a string of criminal cases and is long wanted by authorities for his involvement in many ransom kidnappings in the region.

It said the police operation was conducted in the presence of village chieftain Hussein Abdulasalam.

There was no report about Waning or if was in the area when police arrested the trio. Waning was also linked to the kidnapping of Australian adventurer Warren Rodwell in Zamboanga Sibugay’s Ipil town on December 2011 and freed in June 2013 after his brother and sister paid $94,600 ransom. (Mindanao Examiner)

An Open Letter to President Aquino (Lumad Mindanaw Governing Council)

His Excellency, President Simeon Benigno C. Aquino III.

Re:  Appeal for the Recognition, Protection and Promotion of the Indigenous Peoples’ Inherent, Inalienable and Collective Rights and Identities in the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro-CAB and the Bangsamoro Basic Law-BBL Pursuant to the Provisions of the 1987 Constitution and its Enabling Law, the Republic Act 8371 Better Known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 or IPRA.

Tinahud Namong Presidente sa Atong Nasud,

The Lumad Mindanaw Peoples Federation-LMPF expresses its appreciation to Your Excellency for supporting the Bangsamoro collective rights for the sake of lasting peace in Mindanao. But we also appeal to Your Excellency to please guarantee that the Bangsamoro Basic Law shall recognize, protect and promote the identities and the rights of the Indigenous Peoples anchored on the 1987 Constitution and its enabling law, the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, or RA 8371.

LMPF, the organization of the un-Islamized Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao, collectively adopted the ascription as Katawhang Lumad or Indigenous Peoples. LMPF pioneered in the assertion of the Indigenous Peoples rights way back in 1984 when it convened the historic “Land Congress” in Cebu City that paved the lobbying for the inclusion of the Indigenous Peoples rights in the National Charter, the 1987 Constitution and the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997. Similarly, LMPF was also vigorously participated in the sessions of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Population-UNWGIP drafting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Philippine and the Malaysian Governments were among the 144 states/nations voted in favor of the UNDRIP.

This means that for decades now, Lumad Mindanaw has been a strong and consistent stakeholder in our people’s search for peace. We hereto attached copies of our letters to the GPH Panel expressing our consistent and earnest appeal to consider the rights of the indigenous peoples in the Bangsamoro peace talks.

If possible, we humbly wish to meet with you personally so we can express more fully our message of peace with dignity and justice.

Again, we convey to you our collective appreciation for Your Excellency’s efforts for peace in Mindanao and the entire country.

Kindly allow us to assure Your Excellency of our highest considerations.

Yours very respectfully,

Lumad Mindanaw Governing Council

MILF accuses Philippine military of attacking rebel forces

 A sniper of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. (Mindanao Examiner Photo / Mark Navales)

MAGUINDANAO (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 17, 2014) – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has accused the Philippine military of attacking its forces in the southern province of Basilan and said three of its fighters had been killed by soldiers.

It said one civilian, Julamri Bapakil was also killed and three others wounded - Adzmar Abdurahim, 14; Hudri Julamri, 16; and Basri Pamasad, 17; and Jihad Abdurajim, 17 - by the military assault in the towns of Ungkaya Pukan and Tipo-Tipo.

The MILF identified its slain members as Basir Kerok, Soy Tarung and Mohammad Soh. Two other fighters, Totong Ausal and Muthim Imam, were also wounded in the fighting. It said the military violated the cease-fire agreement between the MILF and the government.

Abu Sayyaf

The military’s Western Mindanao Command said it launched the operation on April 11 against the Abu Sayyaf which is being blamed for the spate of terrorism and ransom kidnappings in Basilan and other parts of western Mindanao. The clashes also killed two soldiers and wounded 29 more.

Marine Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command, said the military assault targeted Abu Sayyaf leaders Puruji Indama and Nurhassan Jamiri, who have been harassing workers at a government road project there.

She said the military operation was coordinated with the MILF in Basilan, one of five provinces under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and is also a known stronghold of the rebel group.

“The launching of the combat operation has been coordinated with the AHJAG, CCCH and the PNP in pursuit of the lawless elements, primarily the Abu Sayyaf, which is believed to be responsible in several extortion and kidnapping cases here in the Mindanao area,” Myuela said.

AHJAG refers to the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group and the CCCH is the abbreviation for the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities which is part of the peace panels of the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that ensures the mechanism of the cease-fire agreement is not violated.

Truce violated

But the MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group which recently signed a peace deal with Manila, denied the military report, saying the assault was launched without any coordination and this sparked fierce gun battle between its forces and government troops after security forced encroached into its territories.

“The movement of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) soldiers was not in any way coordinated with CCCH neither the military informed the AHJAG. The encounter could had been avoided had the military coordinated with the GPH-MILF CCCH and the International Monitoring Team,” the MILF said.

It said the military assault against the Abu Sayyaf in the village of Kurellem lasted only for two hours, the exchanged of gun fire between the aggressed MILF forces and the government troops took several hours.
“Heavy damages were also reported on a school building, madrasah, mosque and agricultural crops due to relentless artillery shelling and helicopter machinegun fire,” it said.

MILF rebels aided Abu Sayyaf

AFP chief Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista said they have reports that MILF rebels fought alongside Abu Sayyaf militants in Basilan.

“We were running after the ASG, yun MILF kinausap sila through our mechanisms that we are going to launch enforcement operations and they supported that.  Kung saan ay mayroon silang mga members that they cannot control, may mga kamag-anak sila sa Abu Sayyaf (and) they probably joined (the fighting) in their individual capacity (and) not as MILF (as an organization), as relatives...naguusap yun MILF and AFP so it’s very clear yun,” Bautista told reporters while visiting wounded troops in Zamboanga City.

Bautista said some MILF members who have relatives with the Abu Sayyaf were involved in the fighting.

“There is no participation of the MILF in the operations. May usapan tayo with the MILF and it is working and kausap natin yun mga commander nila during the operations and they support our operations. Ngayon alam naman natin na ang MILF ay irregular force yan, minsan mayroong kamag-anak ang ASG doon, Ganoon ang nangyari,” he said.

Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Domingo Tutaan said they are still verifying reports that as many as 32 rebels were killed and wounded in the fighting. “We are checking this report that at least 18 rebels were killed and 14 others were wounded in the clashes. All these (reports) came from the grounds,” Tutaan told The Manila Times.

Despite the massive military assault, the militants escaped, but the military said the operation against the Abu Sayyaf will not stop. Some 200 soldiers under the command of Brig. Gen. Carlito Galvez had taken part in the offensive. (Mindanao Examiner)

PMA to showcase military tradition in Zamboanga City

PMA cadets

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 16, 2014) – The public is up for a rare public performance by cadets from the prestigious Philippine Military Academy who will hold a silent drill exhibition in Zamboanga City in Mindanao.

Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command, said the cadets will hold their exhibition at Paseo del Mar, Naval Forces Western Mindanao and in Western Mindanao Command Grandstand on April 21, 22 and 23, respectively. 

She said this exhibition is part of their annual Southern Cruise. “The silent drill exhibition will be performed by the third class cadets of PMA Class 2017 which will showcase the finest movements in military marching and formation. The main highlight of the Southern Cruise is to promote PMA in the different areas in order to recruit the best, brightest and the fittest applicants for the military service,” Muyuela said.

She said in this activity, cadets will also be oriented in the different units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that will help them choose which branch of service they will serve — the Army, the Navy or the Air Force - after graduating from the academy located in Baguio City.

“This is a continuing activity, after the successful conduct of the Southern Cruises for PMA classes 2014 and 2015 in the past two years — a revival after 20 years,” she said.

The cadets have recently visited the Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City. Also in the list of their visitation are Cebu City, Cavite, Corregidor Island and Puerto Princesa in Palawan province.

Cadets follow very unique customs and traditions that are premised on the principle that "no one is fit to command who has not learned to obey. To build the desirable character traits expected of cadets, they live under an atmosphere of restraint prescribed by rules and regulations. (Mindanao Examiner)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

5 Abu Sayyaf killed, teenage rebel nabbed in Philippines

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 16, 2014) – Five Abu Sayyaf rebels were killed following a firefight with government soldiers in Patikul town in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, officials announced on Wednesday.

Officials said the rebels were onboard a vehicle when they opened fire on marines manning a checkpoint in the village of Bangkal on the night of April 13. The soldiers pursued the attackers and engaged them in a running gunbattle that left 5 rebels dead.

“According to an official report received from the ground units, the incident transpired when the Marine troops conducting checkpoint signaled and tried to stop the approaching vehicle (Tamaraw FX), but instead, they were fired upon by the passengers aboard said vehicle. The troops then immediately reacted and retaliated while the vehicle speeds up.”

“The marines immediately conducted pursuit operation which led them to recover the vehicle and one cadaver which was positively identified as an Abu Sayyaf member, and it was also disclosed that the other four Abu Sayyafs were seriously wounded and later died in an undisclosed area,” said Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command.

She said the vehicle and the cadaver were handed over to the local municipal government and police authorities.

Muyuela said the operations against the Abu Sayyaf are continuing in Sulu and she also appealed to the public to help in the campaign against kidnappings and terrorism by providing authorities with information about lawless elements or suspicious persons in their communities.

“The military is continuously intensifying efforts to address the threats posed by the Abu Sayyaf in the Sulu province,” she said.

Just recently, a 17-year old member of the Abu Sayyaf, Jelam Elah alias Jihad and Jers, was also arrested at a marine checkpoint in the village of Bungkaung in Patikul town following a tip off from local villagers.

Elah, a resident of Budkaha in the town’s Maligay village, was travelling on a motorcycle when he was stopped at the checkpoint. During interrogation, Elah admitted to be a member of the so-called Lucky 9 group under Abu Sayyaf leader Ninok Sapari, whose members are mostly young men, tagged as behind the recent kidnappings in the province and the attacks on military targets in Patikul. (Mindanao Examiner)

President Aquino inspects bus deports, sea and airports

  President Benigno Aquino inspects bus depots, seaports and airports on Wednesday to ensure that all security preparations are in place during the Holy Week. (Photo by Benhur Arcayan)

He also presided a conference with the police at Camp Crame in Quezon City. (Photo by Rey Baniquet)

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 16, 2014) - Philippine President Benigno Aquino has inspected various bus depots, sea and airports on Wednesday and also presided over a conference with the police over the security and safety preparations for the Holy Week.

Aquino inspected the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City where he checked security facilities there and was also briefed by airport officials about the operations this Lenten season.

He then inspected the North Port Passenger Terminal Complex in Manila and personally looked at the pier’s baggage and passenger screening area, pre-departure gates and other facilities.

After the port visit, Aquino went to the bus terminals in Quezon City.

Police Chief Alan Purisima told Aquino that they are now on heightened alert status and has increased police presence in places of convergence.

"We have heightened security in malls, bus terminals, seaports and airports and we have established police assistant desks in these key establishments," he said.

He further said the police has collaborated with various private agencies for the deployment of marshals at bus terminals and bus stops for the security of motorists and commuters.

"Our police community relations officers have also been intensifying crime prevention awareness measures against burglary and other crimes against property," he said.

Philippines warns OFWs, Filipino travellers on Mideast virus

 MERS-CoV particles as seen by negative stain electron microscopy. Virions contain characteristic club-like projections emanating from the viral membrane, according to Wikipedia.

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 16, 2014) - The Philippines said it is assisting Filipinos infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus or MERS-CoV to ensure their health and prevent the spread of the disease following the death of one Filipino infected with it.

On Wednesday, one Filipino nurse who came home from the United Arab Emirates,  was quarantined after he tested for the virus. Health officials said the nurse had contact with another victim who recently died from the disease.

Four of the nurse's family members who came to welcome him at the airport were also quarantined as a precaution until the results of the laboratory tests come out to determine if they have been infected. Among the symptoms of the disease are difficulty in breathing, fever and cough.

A government spokesman Herminio Coloma, Jr, said the Department of Foreign Affairs, through the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi, has dispatched a team on April 12 to determine the condition of Filipinos who have reportedly contracted the virus.

“The Embassy is continuously coordinating with the health authorities of Abu Dhabi in monitoring the cases of Filipinos possibly affected with MERS Corona Virus and the DFA urges Filipino nationals to heed the advice given by health authorities,” Coloma said.

He said one Filipino died of the disease on April 10 as confirmed by foreign affairs officials and that five others remain in quarantine.

The Department of Health has updated President Benigno Aquino on the incidence of the disease in the Middle Eastern countries.

While no travel restrictions have been issued as a precaution, Filipinos traveling to the Middle East are advised to avoid contact with persons showing influenza-like illness and to observe frequent hand washing.

Those returning from the Middle East who become ill within two weeks upon arrival are advised to delay visits to crowded places and to seek immediate medical attention. Hospitals have been instructed to report to the DOH any patient who may be suspected of contracting the MERS-CoV infection.

All persons who recently traveled to the Middle East and are experiencing severe respiratory illness should be tested at the nearest hospital. These cases will be reported to the National Epidemiology Center, while the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine will confirm the diagnosis.

The advisory also said the Bureau of Quarantine continues to screen travelers at different points of entry.

The virus belongs to the genus Betacoronavirus and has been traced to an Egyptian tomb bat. The World Health Organization said the virus is now a threat to entire world.

Saudi Arabia accounts for the majority of confirmed Mers-Cov cases and there are also reports of people infected with the virus in Qatar, Jordan, Pakistan and even in Germany and Britain.

2 Filipino journalists threatened with death

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 16, 2014) – Philippine authorities have provided security to 2 journalists who were receiving death threats from an unknown group in Valencia City in Mindanao.

According to the Asia Human Rights Commission, the 39-year old Arthur ‘Jun’ Sapanghari, of radio station of dxDB, and Randie Makipotin received threatening text messages from their cell phones.

The AHRC have written the police about the threats and has received a reply from the authorities.

In a letter dated March 27, 2014 received recently by Liliana Corrieri, program assistant of the AHRC's Urgent Appeals programme, Police Chief Supt. Augusto Marquez, Jr., officer-in-charge of the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management of the Philippine National Police, said they have provided security to both Sapanghari and Makipotin.

““This pertains to your letter dated February 4, 2014...regarding the ongoing threats against Arthur Sapanghari and Randie Makipotin, broadcasters and journalists in Valencia City, Bukidnon. Please be informed that we have already detailed police personnel to provide protective security to Mr. Sapanghari and his family in order to ensure their safety against possible threats while Mr. Sapanghari actively participates in the peace and order campaigns in Valencia City.”

“Moreover, a discreet investigation is ongoing to identify the personalities involved in the alleged threats against the lives of Mr. Sapanghari and Mr. Randie Makipotin,” Marquez said in the letter.

The AHRC said it welcomed the action taken by the police in providing security personnel to ensure the safety of the journalists.

“In line with this, we also expect that the discreet investigation that the PNP has announced that it is undertaking to identify the persons involved in making such threats will produce results and that the PNP will take appropriate action on those results,” AHRC said.

It said Sapanghari was threatened for exposing stories of corruption, illegal logging and human trafficking in his community; while his friend is being threatened for helping him. The police provided security; however, it was discontinued without the identification of the perpetrators. The victims now fears for their safety, their families and the effect that the threats will have on their work.

‘Your days are numbered’

AHRC said based on the documentation by Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, Sapanghari has started receiving threats in December last year and one of the messages sent to him was, “dili ka motobag ug tawagan, inihap na ang imong mga adlaw” (You did not answer my call, your days are numbered).
And another message, “naminaw ko sa imong programa. Hambogero! Di naka ma abtan ug pasko isunod na ka kay Dignos” (I was listening to your program. Conceited! You will be gone before Christmas. You will suffer the same fate as Dignos).

Joas Dignos was another hard-hitting commentator in Maramag town in Bukidnon, who was killed two motorcycle gunmen in Valencia City on November 29, 2013.
On December 18 at 8 p.m, while at home, Sapanghari said he saw 3 men get down from a motorcycle and one of them who was wearing a cap walked towards the kitchen door. Sapanghari saw the man getting something from his sling bag. Alarmed that it might be a gun, Sapanghari pushed his daughter to a corner of the house and closed the kitchen door. He then dashed towards their front door to close it, and then he turned off the lights. As he gathered his family in their room, he heard approaching footsteps from outside their house. He called the police for help, but when they arrived, the three men had gone.

On January 17, 2014, at 8 a.m., a man aboard a motorcycle went to his house and asked after his whereabouts from his wife. When his wife answered, “wala diri” (he is not here), the man went away. His wife called immediately him and asked if he had an appointment with anyone that day. At that time, Sapanghari was at the Maramag police station to get a report regarding a killing incident in Musuan.

When he said none, his wife told him about the man who was looking for him. His wife described that the man was wearing a cap and a shawl that almost covered his entire face. The motorcycle was color blue and had no plate number. From the description given by his wife, Sapanghari remembered one of the suspects in the killing of a number of people in Valencia City and Maramag.

After Sapanghari was done with his field work, he boarded a bus to Musuan to get his motorcycle. As he was about to get down from the bus, he saw six persons on board three motorcycles near the spot where his motorcycle was parked. Concerned, he went directly to Valencia City and called a friend to get his motorcycle.

When his friend reached Sapanghari’s motorcycle, his friend noticed a gray pickup truck without a plate number and two other motorcycles in the area. When his friend started Sapanghari’s motorcycle and went on, the pickup truck followed him. It only stopped when he was about to enter Valencia City proper.

According to Sapanghari, he believes that his life and his family, is in danger. He wrote a letter to the Police Provincial Director in Bukidnon and requested for police backup. The director responded to his request and ordered the Valencia City Police Chief to send Sapanghari two police officers who stayed with him for one week. However, after a week, the police backup was discontinued.

Sapanghari fears for the safety of his family. They are always scared, especially when they think of what happened on December 18, 2013. But he said that his work obliges him to expose the truth and fight for what is right.

Makipotin also received text messages last January 21 that read, “imo diay gitabangan si Jun Bandilyo? Apil taka patyon puslan man nag ka leche-leche akong kinabuhi.” (So, you helped Jun Bandilyo? I will kill you. Because of you, my life has become messed up). He replied to the text message by saying, “alang ako man siyang kauban” (of course, he is my companion).

The threat started when Makipotin offered his multi-cab as the vehicle for Sapanghari to use instead of the latter’s motorcycle. (AHRC, TFDP, Mindanao Examiner)

Binatilyong kidnapper nadakip sa Sulu

SULU (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 16, 2014) – Nadakip ng militar ang isang teenager na diumano'y miyembro ng Lucky 9 kidnap-for-ransom group sa Sulu na may kinalaman sa mga serye ng dukutan sa naturang lalawigan.

Ibinigay na ng militar sa Patikul police station ang suspek at ngayon ay iniimbestigahan pa ng mga awtoridad. Hindi naman mabatid kung hahawakan ba ng Department of Social Welfare and Development ang 17-anyos na suspek.

Hindi pa matiyak kung ipinapasa ba ng grupo ng binatilyo ang kanilang mga bikitma sa Abu Sayyaf o sariling diskarte.

Kamakalawa lamang ay napatay rin ng mga marines ang isang Abu Sayyaf sa labanan sa nasabing bayan. Nagpa-patrol ang mga marines ng matiyempuhan nila ang isang grupo ng mga rebelde.

Hindi natagpuan ng militar ang bangkay ng napatay na rebelde at tinangay diumano ito ng Abu Sayyaf upang hindi makilala ng mga awtoridad.

Nitong nakaraang linggo lamang ay 2 sundalo ang nasawi at 28 ang sugatan sa labanan ng militar sa Abu Sayyaf sa Basilan province. Mahigit sa 200 tropa ng army ang nakipagbanatan sa 60 Abu Sayyaf, ngunit natakasan pa rin sila ng mga rebelde sa bayan ng Ungkaya Pukan at Tipo-Tipo. (Mindanao Examiner)

Letters to the Editor: Mamamayang Moro Labanan ang Bantang Maniobra ng Administrasyong Aquino sa CAB

KINIKILALA ng Suara Bangsamoro ang nilagdaang Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) sa pagitan ng Government of the Philippines at Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF-GPH) bilang resulta nang inabot sa usapang pangkapayaan ng GPH-MILF, subalit kung hindi mapagbantay ang MILF nanganganib na maniobrahin ng administrasyong Aquino ang CAB para mahulog lamang ito sa makasariling interes ng Administrasyong Aquino at mga dayuhang namumuhunan.

Ilang araw matapos ang pirmahan, unti-unting binubulid ang usapang pangkapayapaan sa balangkas ng konstitusyonal at di konstitusyonal, na lubhang nakakabahala dahil ginagawang malabnaw at pinapakitid nito ang natitirang probisyon sa CAB na sa pananaw ng MILF ay tagumpay para sa Bangsamoro – ang wealth sharing at power sharing.

Magiging mapagbantay din ang Suara Bangsamoro sa maaring maniobra ng lehislatura na dinodimina ng partido ni President Benigno Aquino III, sa maaring pagpasok nila ng mga probisyong hindi sumasalamin sa interes ng mamamayang Moro bagkus mas magpapalakas pa sa pang-ekonomiya at pampulitikang interes ng administrasyong Aquino sa pamayanang Moro.

Kami ay nababahala na magamit lamang ang likas na yaman sa pamayanang Moro para sa interest ng dayuhang namumuhunan at mga kasapakat nitong local namumuhanan. Wala pa man naipatupad ang CAB, nitong nakaraang taon inanunsyo ng Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) na nailako na ang 6,000 na ektaryang lupa sa Maguindanao sa korporasyong UNIVEX mula sa Malaysia at lokal na kasapakat, ang Al Mujahiden Agro Resources Development Inc (ARMADI) para magtayo ng plastasyon ng saging.

Nababahala kami sa Suara Bangsamoro na gamitin ng administrayong Aquino ang CAB upang mailako ang Charter-Change(Cha-Cha) sa mamamayang Moro bilang paraan para makilala ang itatayong bagong entidad ng Bangsamoro Autonomous Government, ngunit sa likod nito ay  pahihintulutan ng Charter Change ang mga dayuhang namumuhunan na pwedeng na pag-arian ang 100% likas na yaman ng mamamayang Moro at Pilipino. Halos nabenta na nga ang mga likas na yaman sa lugar ng mga Moro, tulad ng deposito ng langis sa Sulu Sea Basin na pinagpapasahan ng Exxon Mobil at korporasyong Total.

Nangangamba kami sa maaring epekto ng mga probisyon at mekanismong binubuo sa Annex on Normalization ng CAB.  Matatandaang ilang araw matapos lagdaan ito, sinampolan na ng AFP ang pagtutugis sa sinasabing mga “peace spoilers” sa Maguindanao sa isinagawang isang linggong aerial bombing laban sa Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) sa sa Datu Piang, Maguindanao noong January 26 hanggang April 1.  Nagbunsod ito ng malawakang sapilitang paglikas ng daang bilang ng mga residente sa Datu Piang dulot ng walang pakundangang pagbobomba at panununog ng 6th ID ng AFP sa Maguindanao. 

Bukod sa mga mapanlinlang na “peace and development” projects ng administrasyong Aquino sa MILF combatants, nakikita rin ng Suara Bangsamoro ang pagpressure sa MILF na isurrender na ang kanilang mga armas gayong wala pang kaseguruhan na may panghahawakan na ang MILF sa usapang pangkapayapaan.

Iginigiit ng GPH ang pagsurender ng baril, gayong wala namang nangyayaring “redeployment” sa pwersang militar ng AFP. Bukod dito, minamadali ng gubyernong US na pirmahan na ng Pilipinas ang kasunduang militar nito,  ang Enhanced Defence Cooperation na magbibigay daan sa pagdagsa ng maraming bilang ng sundalong Amerikano sa Pilipinas, pagdaong ng kanilang mga kagamitang pandigma at malayang paggamit sa mga pasilidad tulad ng daungan, paliparan at mga kampo. Lalong magiging bulnerable ang aming mga komunidad sa mga human rights violations na maaring idulot ng mga operasyong militar ng tropang Amerikano at AFP.

Nakakapangamba din ang doble-karang approach ng administrasyong ito sa usapang pangkapayapaan. Tahasang nilalabag nito ang mga nagdaang kasunduan sa na pinirmahan ng gubyerno ng Pilipinas tulad ng 1996 Final Peace Agreement sa Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) at The Hague Joint Declaration at Joint Agreement on the Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) sa National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Ang pagsasawalang bahala ng administrasyong Aquino sa iba pang grupo ay pagwawalang bahala din sa mga lehitimong isyu na kanilang inilapag sa mga usaping pangkapayapaan tulad ng inhustisya, kawalan ng lupa, at di pagkilala sa mga karapatang pantao.

Taong 2010 ng maupo ang administrasyong Aquino at pinirmahan ang Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro noong 2012 pero makalipas ang mag aapat na taong panunungkulan ng kanyang Administrasyon nananatili ang kawalang lupa, hustisya at pagbabago sa hanay naming mga Bangsamoro bagkus patuloy ang pambubusabos sa aming lupang ninuno at mas lalo kaming nalugmok sa kumunoy ng kahirapan na ayon mismo sa tala ng gobyerno ang Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao(ARMM) na ang rehiyon ng Moro ang pinakamahirap na rehiyon sa buong bansa.

Hindi namin hahayaan na gamitin ang CAB upang mapagtakpan ng Administrasyong Aquino ang mga pinsala ng kanyang mapaniil at mapanlupig  na programa sa mamamayang Moro ng pagpapanatili sa War on Terror, State of Emergency sa Maguindanao, State of Lawlessness sa Basilan at ang ‘All Out Justice’ ni Aquino sa Basilan noong 2011.

Nalulungkot kami sa Suara Bangsamoro sa posibleng ibubunga ng Normalization ang pagdis-arma sa Bangsamoro Islamic Arm Forces(BIAF) na naka konteksto ng programang kontra-insurhensya na nakatago sa pangalang Oplan Bayanihan(OBN) na sinusupil nito karapatang ng Mamamayan. Nakakapangamba ang pagbubuo ng mga Joint Normalization Teams(JNT) na mapanghati sa mga mamamayang Moro kung mismo ang MILF ay kasama sa mga magpupulis sa mga tinaguriang “peace spoilers” ng usapang pangkapayapaan, isa itong mapanghating instrumento kung saan ang Moro ay magagamit laban sa kapwa niya Moro.

Nananawagan ang Suara Bangsamoro sa mamamayang Moro na maging mapagbantay sa mga posibleng maniobrang gagawin ng Administrasyong Aquino para gamitin lamang sa sariling kapakanan  at sa Dayuhang Namumuhunan ang usapang CAB hindi ang pagtugon nito sa matagal nang hiling ng mamamayang Moro ang makapag pasya sa sarili.

Suara Bangsamoro
Cotabato City

Philippine tribesmen decry military campaign

 Indigenous people demand the pull out of government troops in Davao del Norte's Talaingod town where the military campaign already displaced hundreds of families. (Photos courtesy of Kilab Multimedia)

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 15, 2014) - Tribesmen on Tuesday trooped to the local National Commission for the Indigenous People and the Commission on Human Rights and demanded the withdrawal of government troops from their villages in Davao del Norte's Talaingod town where the military launched a massive operations against communist insurgents.

The natives said the military campaign against the New People's Army has displaced more than a thousand people and many of them, including children, have sought refuge at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Davao City.

They accused the military of human rights violations and said troops have tagged indigenous tribes as being members or supporters of the NPA, especially those who are oppose to the war.

"We are the targets of the military. It is not true that we are caught in between the fighting of the AFP and NPA. When the military bombed our communities and occupied them, did they find NPAs? No. Because the military's real targets are us," Datu Doloman Dawsay, one of the tribal leaders and chairman of the indigenous group Salugpongan 'Ta Tanu Ig Kanugon, said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

Dawsay said both the NCIP and the CHR failed to protect the rights and welfare of the indigenous tribes in Talaingod. "Our people have been defending our ancestral land for as long as I can remember. We were able to drive away the loggers twenty years ago, but now it is the military that is driving us from our homes. We will not go back to our communities unless the soldiers leave," he said.

The Eastern Mindanao Command has strongly denied the accusations. "Those are not true and our mission here is to protect innocent civilians from the clutches of communism and atrocities of the NPA," Capt. Alberto Caber, an spokesman, told the Mindanao Examiner.

The NPA has been fighting for decades for the establishment of a separate communist state in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Homemade bomb planted in bus in Mindanao turns out to be dud

TACURONG CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 15, 2014) – Security forces in the southern Philippines have recovered a homemade bomb on Tuesday, but it out to be a dud after soldiers said it contained no explosive charge.

The bomb, assembled from a 60mm mortar attached to an old mobile phone and placed in a cardboard box, was left inside a bus in Tacurong City when discovered by two passengers. The wires were still protruding from the box when the bus conductor picked it up and threw it on a vacant lot before calling the authorities.

Members of the police and army explosives ordnance units carefully inspected the bomb and declared it unarmed because it has no explosive charge.

It was not immediately how the bomb managed to pass through the security of the bus, owned by Rural Transit Mindanao.  It was unknown whether pranksters were behind it or if it was a warning by rebel groups or extortionists to the bus firm which has been targeted in previous bombings in the restive region.

Police said the discovery of the bomb only showed the active participation of the public against terror threats. (Rose Muneza and Deanna Diaz)

MILF rebels fight alongside Abu Sayyaf in Philippines

A military medical team in Zamboanga City assists a soldier wounded in fighting in Basilan province in southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo / Library File)

And  Military chief Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, accompanied by Western Mindanao Command chief Maj. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, pins Gold Cross medals to wounded soldiers in Zamboanga City in these photos released by the Western Mindanao Command Public Information Office under Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela.

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 15, 2014) – Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels have aided the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf in fighting Philippine government forces in the troubled province of Basilan in the Muslim autonomous region.

Military chief Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista said they have reports that MILF rebels fought alongside Abu Sayyaf militants that killed two army soldiers and wounded 29 more in the towns of Tipo-Tipo and Ungkaya Pukan.

Fierce fighting erupted last Friday after troops stormed an Abu Sayyaf lair and clashed with about 60 militants whose group has been blamed in the spate of terrorism and kidnappings for ransom in Basilan and other parts of the southern Philippines.

“We were running after the ASG, yun MILF kinausap sila through our mechanisms that we are going to launch enforcement operations and they supported that.  Kung saan ay mayroon silang mga members that they cannot control, may mga kamag-anak sila sa Abu Sayyaf (and) they probably joined (the fighting) in their individual capacity (and) not as MILF (organization), as relatives...naguusap yun MILF and AFP so it’s very clear yun,” Bautista told reporters while visiting wounded troops in Zamboanga City.

Bautista defended the MILF, which has recently signed a peace deal with Manila, saying the country’s largest Muslim rebel group had no participation in the clashes, although some of its members who have relatives with the Abu Sayyaf were involved.

“There is no participation of the MILF in the operations. May usapan tayo with the MILF and it is working and kausap natin yun mga commander nila during the operations and they support our operations. Ngayon alam naman natin na ang MILF ay irregular force yan, minsan mayroong kamag-anak ang ASG doon, Ganoon ang nangyari,” he said.

Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Domingo Tutaan, who accompanied Bautista, said they are still verifying reports that as many as 32 rebels were killed and wounded in the fighting. “We are checking this report that at least 18 rebels were killed and 14 others were wounded in the clashes. All these (reports) came from the grounds,” Tutaan told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

Despite the massive military assault, the militants escaped, but the military said the operation against the Abu Sayyaf will not stop.

The army said the offensive targeted Abu Sayyaf leaders Puruji Indama, Nurhasan Jamiri and Isnilon Hapilon, but there were no reports whether they had been killed. Some 200 soldiers had taken part in the offensive. (Mindanao Examiner)

Monday, April 14, 2014

NPA rebels raid Philippine mayor’s house

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 14, 2014) – Communist rebels have raided the house of a Filipino town mayor in the southern province of Davao Occidental, a spokesman for the New People’s Army said.

Ka Efren Aksasato said rebel forces under Alex Ababa Command stormed the house of Mayor James Joyce, of Jose Abad Santos town and seized five automatic rifles, an M203 grenade launcher, four shotguns and a revolver, including munitions.

Aksasato accused the politician of human rights violations and counter-revolutionary actions against the NPA, among other crimes against innocent civilians.

The politician and his family were not in the house when the rebels attack. There were no reports of casualties from the raid.
Aksasato warned that the raid was only the beginning against the politician, who is wanted by rebels for his crimes. There was no immediate statement from the military about the daring raid which occurred on April 13.

The NPA has been waging a separatist war for decades now. (Mindanao Examiner)

Social Exclusion not Pleasing to God By Bishop Gerardo Alminaza

THERE IS poverty and suffering in the country and the world, not because of overpopulation but because of inequality, manifested in the huge mass of people being excluded from gainful livelihood (unemployment).

Pope Francis lamented, “The unemployed and underemployed risk being relegated to the margins of society, becoming victims of social exclusion.”

Myrna, a worker in an Export Processing Zone in Mactan, Cebu, shared with me how the company summarily terminated her from work when they started organizing workers against the oppressive working conditions in the garment factory where she worked.


Myrna is not alone. Despite the Philippines registering the highest gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate in Southeast Asian regions last year,“the latest Labor Force Survey pegs unemployment at 6.5% of the national workforce and, more tellingly, underemployment at 17.9% (the latter being the percentage of the workforce that is employed but looking for additional work)” (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines [CBCP] 2014 Lenten Message).

In January 2014, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said, the unemployment rate climbed to 7.5 percent from last year’s 7.1 percent even after the GDP last year grew 7.2 percent.

“In its survey on poverty for the last quarter of 2013, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) reports that 55% of respondents actually consider themselves poor, up from 50% the previous quarter. Clearly, many people see themselves as being excluded from opportunities to live a decent life”(CBCP 2014 Lenten Message).

Pope Francis considers UNEMPLOYMENT as a very serious problem affecting many countries: “It is the consequence of an economic system that is no longer able to create work, because it has placed at its centre the idol of money.” (March 20, 2014, to employees and managers of a steel company).

Pope Francis deplored today’s world where “everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape. Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded... Those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers” (cf. Evangelii Gaudium [EG], 53)

The CBCP 2014 Lenten Message said that we experience moral destitution as inequality. It quoted Pope Francis’ critique of capitalism: “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and na├»ve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting” (EG, 54).


Each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully a part of society. This demands that we be docile and attentive to the cry of the poor and to come to their aid (EG, 187).

The Visayas Clergy Discernment Group and the Cebu Archdiocesan Discernment Group have, in various instances, supported workers’ struggle against union-busting. Cebu Archbishop Jose S. Palma mediated a labor dispute where the company was set to terminate 18 workers, including leaders of the labor union. After interventions, termination of workers did not push through.

Pope Francis said to workers and managers:  “The various political, social and economic actors are called upon to promote a different approach, based on justice and solidarity, to ensure the possibility of dignified work for all.”

“This great challenge requires the involvement of the Christian community as a whole. The first challenge is to revive the roots of faith and of our adhesion to Jesus Christ. This is the inspiring principle in the choices of a Christian: faith. Faith moves mountains! Christian faith is able to enrich society through the concrete element of brotherhood it embodies. … Never cease to hope for a better future. Do not let yourselves be trapped in the vortex of pessimism! If everyone does his part, if we all put the human person and his dignity at the centre, and if we consolidate an attitude of solidarity and fraternal sharing, inspired by the Gospel, we can emerge from the swamp of this difficult and burdensome period of economic turmoil”.

Workers’ Empowerment

The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP 2) in 1991 said that in our country “where the poor and marginalized have little genuine participation… we realize that integral development of people will be possible only with their corresponding empowerment” (PCP 2, 326).

PCP 2 declared that, “We need to activate fundamental charisms of freedom and responsibility, and encourage the emergence of people’s organizations, sectoral associations, inspired by the principle of solidarity and empowered by the principle of subsidiarity”(PCP 2,328).

For the workers, it is important that they become organized in labor unions and workers’ associations for them to be empowered in charting their future. It is imperative for the Church’s Social Action Centers to have programs in helping facilitate the building up of workers’ organizations.

It is only through organized strength that workers will participate in social development, as “No social transformation is genuine and lasting where people themselves do not actively participate in the process” (PCP 2, 325). (The author is the Bishop of San Carlos in Negros Oriental and Convenor, Visayas Clergy Discernment Group)

An Atenean’s Journey: Ateneo and Beyond By Adriel Earl Albaladejo Toribio

 Adriel Earl Albaladejo Toribio (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

An Atenean’s Journey: Ateneo and Beyond By Adriel Earl Albaladejo Toribio
Bachelor of Science in Accountancy, Cum Laude | Class Valedictorian

The Board of Trustees; Reverend Father Karel S San Juan of the Society of Jesus, President of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University; Brother Roseller L Atilano of the Society of Jesus, our commencement speaker; Dr Rebecca V Fernandez, Academic Vice President; Members of the University administration; Members of the Faculty; Jesuit Fathers; Fellow graduates; Honored guests; Ladies and Gentlemen. Buenas Noches a todo!

Thirteen years ago, I met a boy. He was tall, dark and thin. A simple boy who has dreams not just for himself but for his family. He told me that their house was burned when he was in grade 2 and they needed to stay in a bahay kubo for more than two years. He needed to study his notes in school before sunset because they had no electricity for nearly a year.

He had to wake up early in the morning to carry water from the neighborhood for they have no water connection, at that time he was 10 years old. After all, he graduated Valedictorian in Tetuan Central School Class 2005. In High School he experienced going to school with no baon. He helped his family by selling pizza and burger every day.

When he was in College, every time the rain pours so hard, they are wide awake observing the water to rise because their roof has holes and their house is low. He had days when he needed to dress up along the road because the water in their house is knee level. There were days when his mom needed to be far from them and his dad needed to drive a tricycle to bring food to the table. These were days when he was tested more than just challenged to be strong. These were the days when most of us will say: I give up, I am done. But in these days he learned and his family taught him to say: This too shall pass. Let us move forward. That boy, after thirteen years is now standing in front of you.

Our journey in the Ateneo may not be that smooth for it has been a daily struggle and full of challenges. But Ateneo makes us feel that as we are challenged, people are behind us, to accompany us, to raise us. In the Ateneo we are inspired by the value of compassion, pag-alalay sa ating paglalakbay, and preserved knowing that we are not alone in the journey, that we have companions as we go along. Challenge, Compassion and Companionship – a story of an Atenean’s Journey.

We have daily worries, personal crosses to bear, family and personal problems that we bring every step of the way. But that should not hinder us to dream. That should not stop us to move forward. That should not let our spirits die. Those challenges even motivate us to dream bigger because you believe that there is and there could be a better and brighter tomorrow.

My life and journey has never been easy. I would even say unimaginable in a young boy’s journey. But I have shown you that your life yesterday has a reason where you are today and is not a barrier to your success tomorrow. 

I stand here knowing that my journey is part of the greater journey of this batch, that it has been a challenge of how we are able to be where we are today, at this very moment, in this graduation. Some of us missed meals to be able to comply with academic requirements, some of us needed to have sleepless nights to prepare for a paper and a defense, some needed to be in a graveyard shift to take care of the patients, some of us needed to retake subjects and some extended for a year or years in college.

Jokingly they say quality education takes time but I say that quality and transformative formation in the Ateneo is a lifetime. Our pride as Ateneans is not just about the name that we bring, not just being in Ateneo, but it is anchored in our deeper formation and value that amidst darkness, we see light; amidst the challenge, we see the opportunity to grow; and amidst the sacrifice, we see the purpose of our existence. That is the true spirit of an Atenean.

Do not get me wrong. We are no superheroes to do all things for the world. We are not here to turn the world upside down. People do not expect us to be saints to do miracles. But they believe, deep within their spirit that with our values and formation, we can make a difference. But we are called to make a difference as Ateneans.

Atenean nurses who see the poor mothers and children in Mindanao dying because they do not have access to basic health services. We could be teachers instilling values to children as they grow. We could be business people who will strive for sustainable engagements in communities more than just profits. We could be engineers and system analysts who would build and create wonders for the future. Or we can simply be good examples to our siblings as they grow.

In this batch we offer that change, after this graduation we begin the journey beyond Ateneo and beyond rhetoric. That is what we are called for. That is what we are formed for. This is our mission and this is who we are as Ateneans.

After the Zamboanga Crisis or just after the fire incident in Canelar last night wherein we have friends affected like our fellow graduate, Rein Ran, who still managed to be here after that challenging time, what is it now for us to do? We are not just here to see the problem. We are not just there to extend a hand. We are there to suffer with them and assist them to rise again.

We are connected as Ateneans beyond Ateneo. Every time we see children begging outside La Purisima that matters to us even if he is not our brother or sister. If there is an IDP who cannot eat for a day and having no option at all, that should move our spirits. Every time there is someone in the Ateneo who cannot have a decent meal for a day that must push us to move and extend a helping hand. It is that fundamental belief that we are men and women for and with others that makes us as Ateneans. Recognizing that there is a problem does not solve the crisis. Seeing the problem does not restore peace. Feeling the problem does not restore dignity. Recognizing, seeing and feeling begins it, but acting on it is being an Atenean.

In the Ateneo it not just about you. It has never been a journey alone. There are people with us as we go: Benefactors who supported and believed in us that we can make it, friends who are beside us in our up and down moments, and parents who would do everything to meet our need and make us happy. These are not just ordinary people in our journey.

These are our companions who will never leave us and will always be there for us. They allow us to pursue our individual dreams, to work for our aspiration and dream bigger as tomorrow comes. The Ateneo rekindled the fire in our hearts for service and taught us that in the Ateneo it is Service Beyond Words and beyond just service, it is companionship at work.

To us Ateneans, I say, we have more work to do – More to do for the kids who have the will and drive but do not have money to go to school. These are the kids who should be formed and prepared for life as we believe that they are the future of our nation, and more to do for the internally displaced people after the Zamboanga Crisis.

This year in this graduating batch, we are called to reaffirm our values and our commitments as we say – Men and Women for Others and Pro Deo Et Patria – against a harsh reality. That they may find the sense of community again. More to do for others and less of ourselves, for in the end this is what we have committed for.

Tonight, we will start another journey of our life – a life of more challenges and struggles. Tonight we eagles will be leaving our home to be of service to others – a calling we must respond to. Tonight we will go beyond Ateneo and be men and women for others – the mission we are formed for. Tonight we will show the world who we are as Ateneans. Do not just say those magical words, live out those into action. Do not look for your mission and calling from afar, sometimes you just need to look around and listen where you are needed, where you are called.

Open your eyes so you could see, open your ears so you could listen, open your hearts so you could love and extend your arms so you could serve. Do not just be Ateneo graduates holding those diplomas, but be an Atenean – with values and character.

If we do what we must do, then I have no doubt that all over the country where there is an Atenean, and all over the world, the people will rise, the eagles will soar and will lift us from all the challenges society has to offer. This batch will take on that journey beyond Ateneo and will make a difference in the future that awaits us – a brighter tomorrow wherein eagles will soar high with stronger wings lifting people from poverty to restore dignity, lifting injustice to restore harmony and lift violence to restore peace.

Before I end, allow me to recognize my companions in my journey in the Ateneo – reasons behind who I am today.

To Sir Santi Araneta and Sir Shing Balatbat. These men allowed me to dream and not only dream but to dream the Ateneo dream. I will forever be thankful to you.

To the Jesuit Community, especially to Fr. Willy Samson, who did not just ask if there is anything they could do for me but did more than what is needed. Indeed, more than being priests and brothers, Jesuits are companions in our journey in the Ateneo.

To my El Consejo Atenista and Ogilvie 2009 Family. Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone in this journey, for being with me in my ups and downs. As I said, I am not saying goodbye but see you soon.

To all our Faculty and Staff, most especially to the A Team and the Golden Ladies (Mrs. Leonora Pena, Mrs. Elizabeth Parreno, Mrs. Brenda Molina and Mrs. Thelma Wee). You have not only taught us Accounting but you taught us to be human amidst all. Thank you for the constant inspiration. On October 2014 we will not only pass the CPA Boards Exam for ourselves, not just for our school – we will pass the boards for you.

To my mentor and tormentor, Mr. Aryx Ismael who constantly reminds me to be better, to speak not from the mind but from the heart and challenges us to show service beyond words, thank you very much.

To my parents, Mama Yeng and Papa Arnel, and siblings, Dale, Patrick, Aaron, Brian and Bituin, to whom I do not only dedicate but offer with all my heart what and who I am. For without you along the roller coaster journey, I would not be the Earl today.

To God – for all these is His will, His time, His plan – Kairos. Thank you for the constant push to persevere and never ending inspiration to keep our spirits high.

Ateneo is not just our school. It is not just a University. It is not just a place. Ateneo is our HOME.

We are not a diploma factory. We are forming leaders, men and women whose spirituality and skills compel them to work for social transformation and peace. Hundreds of graduates but few Ateneans. One Atenean can make a difference, but he cannot do it alone. Let us all be Ateneans in our ways.

Thank you and to God always be the glory.

Media Statement: NUJP condemns harassment of journalists in Mindanao

TWO BROADCAST journalists of a Tagum City radio station have reported to colleagues that they were questioned by police intelligence officers while on a routine visit to scour for news at the Davao del Norte police provincial office.

Reporters Erwin Batucan and Jojo Gales visited the Philippine National Police provincial office in Davao del Norte Tuesday, April 8, 2014, to gather police blotter reports from the different police field offices.

Batucan and Gales are reporters of Radyo ni Juan Tagum City 100.7 FM.

Batucan said they were told to look for the police officer of the day to get the reports and were directed to the office of the Intelligence Division where they were met by two police officers.

He said they introduced themselves and showed their identification cards to the two policemen. Batucan said the policemen refused to let them see the police blotters nor answered any questions regarding news worthy incidents that may have happened in the province. Instead, Batucan said the two of them were made to write their personal details - such as names, birthdays, addresses, the name of the owner of the station they work for, and the name of the station manager - in forms provided by the two policemen.

Batucan said they were not given any reason why they needed to write down the information. Batucan said both policemen also refrained from identifying themselves other than to say that both were intelligence officers.

He said after about 40 minutes of answering questions and writing down information, both of them were told they were free to go. The policemen, however, refused to let them see the blotters nor gave them any of the information they sought as journalists.

Batucan said he and his colleagues at the radio station have also seen unidentified  motorcycle riding men observing the goings-on at the radio station at different times.

An Army spokesman had previously tagged the radio station as biased in favor of the New People's Army.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemns and demands an immediate end to the harassment and surveillance of the personnel of Radyo ni Juan.

We likewise demand an immediate investigation and sanctions against military and police personnel who, in violation of their sworn duties, have engaged in this brazen attempt to stifle freedom of the press and of expression.

In particular, we demand the following of the Davao del Norte Provincial Police Office:

1. The immediate identification of the Intelligence Division personnel who subjected Radyo ni Juan reporters Erwin Batucan and Jojo Gales to what can only be described as illegal interrogation and detention.

2. The immediate investigation and discipline these two officers.

3. To publicly hand over to Radyo ni Juan the information illegally extracted from Batucan and Gales.

4. A notarized promise to end any and all surveillance of the radio station and its personnel.

5. An immediate public apology and a written explanation from the provincial police director to the two reporters and to other personnel of the station, and to the media community in Davao del Norte, with the assurance that no such incident will ever occur again.

We also demand that the military, in particular the Philippine Army, end its irresponsible and dangerous Red baiting against Radyo ni Juan and apologize to the station for placing the life of its personnel in mortal danger.

While the claim of an Army spokesman that the radio station was “biased” for the New People’s Army is a tired scare tactic, there is no question that such accusations uttered publicly by state agents have almost always led to violence and other abuses against the targets of vilification, if not by the security forces themselves by paramilitaries and other groups under their control.

We thus demand that the Army place this spokesman under investigation for endangering the lives of civilians in violation both of his sworn duty and of the laws of the land.

We put both the police and military units in Davao del Norte on notice that we shall hold them accountable for any harm that may befall our Radyo ni Juan colleagues as a result of their irresponsible and illegal attempts to intimidate media and curtail press freedom.

Lastly, we demand that this administration once and for all fulfill its promise to protect press freedom and ensure respect of its citizens’ basic rights.

PMA Class 2017 visits Eastern Mindanao Command

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 14, 2014) – More than 200 cadets, support staff and faculty members of the Philippine Military Academy visited Monday the Eastern Mindanao Command in the southern city of Davao, officials said.

Officials said the visit is part of the “Southern Cruise” and educational tour of the Class 2017 cadets to various military units in the country to provide them a better appreciation of the organization that they will belong after graduation.

The visit also promotes PMA in Davao region, especially to those who are interested to become part of the prestigious academy in Baguio City in northern Philippines.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz III, chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, welcomed the cadets headed by PMA Superintendent Maj. Gen. Oscar Lopez. Cruz, who belongs to PMA Class 1980, also spoke with the cadets and told them to live up to the honor code of the institution. “The Honor Code must be a way of life even outside the PMA walls,” Cruz said. (Mindanao Examiner)

Print media still strong, UPMG assures - Adobo Magazine

MANILA – Print media remains to be relevant and strong, industry experts asserted following a statement from Globe Telecom chief operating advisor Peter Bithos that the telco company would no longer be advertising in the medium. 

"People still rely on print when they want accuracy, length, detail," United Print Media Group (UPMG) president and BusinessMirror vice president for corporate affairs Ricky Alegre told adobo in a telephone interview.

At the launch of Globe's mobile advertising platform last March 27, Bithos said that the company decided to pull out of print and out-of-home media to improve on their ROI.

However, Alegre said that according to a cross-media study by GfK Research, print still presents the highest ROI.

The study, conducted in Europe, found that print advertising had an ROI of 120 percent, with magazines producing the highest ROI of all media channels.

"A lot of content of digital comes from us," Alegre added. "Print is the biggest and only manufacturer of content in the world."

Alegre also shared that the UPMG met with Globe Telecom's head of corporate communications Yoly Crisanto, who assured them that despite Bithos' statement, the company's other business levels will continue to advertise in print.

"We're confident. We do not fear digital," Alegre said.

Meanwhile, Lucien Dy Tioco, UPMG corporate secretary and senior vice president for sales and marketing at the Philippine Star said "in the slew of things, whether you're traditional or digital, the bottom line for any media is to evolve and to be current."

"Advertisers have to see beyond the numbers and see the value of each medium and how it can help you reach those touch points…even if we have smaller numbers, we have a good number of influencers because of our credibility and the reputation that newspapers in particular have established," he said.

"It's sad that Globe won't be able to appreciate what actual capabilities print can do in enhancing their brand image and reputation," he said. (Adobo Magazine)


2 Sayyafs dead in police raid in Philippine City

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 14, 2014) – Police commandos raided an Abu Sayyaf hideout and killed 2 militants in a firefight early Monday in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, officials said.

Officials said the fighting also wounded one commando - PO2 Carlos Bocaig - in the village of Santa Maria where six militants were also captured by the police. The wounded policeman was rushed to hospital. It was not immediately known if his wounds are life threatening or not, but he was shot by militants during the raid.

The commandos were part of a composite police force sent to serve the warrants against the gang tagged as behind the spate of kidnappings for ransom in Zamboanga and other areas in western Mindanao.

Inspector Joseph Ortega, a regional police spokesman, said commandos also recovered four .45-caliber pistols and three fragmentation grenades from the hideout.

“We are still interrogating those arrested to determine the extent of their criminal operation. Two gunmen were killed by police forces in the firefight,” he told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

He said the operation was launched following a long surveillance by the police. At least 7 police units were involved in the operation.

The identified of those captured were Alan Abdulla, 29; of Ayala village in Zamboanga City; Jackaria Jamani, 22, of Sibuco town in Zamboanga del Norte province; Nasser Allama, 24, also of Sibuco town; Alaraf Apion, 27, of Santa Barbara village in Zamboanga City; PO1 Saudi Apion, 35; also of Santa Barbara in Zamboanga City; and Mamarin Pilay, 51, village chieftain of Lakiki in  Sibuco town.

It was unknown if any of the gang’s leaders were among those arrested. (Mindanao Examiner)

Kidnapped scion of a wealthy family freed in Zamboanga City

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 14, 2014) – The Philippine military said kidnappers have freed the 27-year old son of a gas station owner in Zamboanga City after 11 days in captivity.

It said Michael Kho was released in the village of Labuan and was fetched by her family and members of the police anti-kidnapping task force. Kho was brought by her parents to the hospital for medical check up.

Kidnappers seized Kho at the family’s Petron gas station in Zamboanga del Norte’s Siocon town on April 2. It was unknown how much ransom was paid by his family in exchange for his freedom, but his release came a week after police arrested Omar Wahab in the village of Bucana in Siocon town.

The 25-year old man was implicated in the kidnapping of Kho. Inspector Dahlan Samuddin, a regional police spokesman, said witnesses pointed to Wahab as one of those who acted as lookout during the kidnapping.

It was not immediately known whether Wahab is a member of any rebel groups operating in Zamboanga provinces which is a known lair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Abu Sayyaf. No individual or group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. (Mindanao Examiner)

New buildings for Romblon hospital unveiled

MANILA(Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 13, 2014) - Government officials have led the unveiling of new buildings at the Romblon Provincial Hospital which was constructed under the the Department of Health's facilities enhancement program.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona with Romblon Governor Eduardo Firmalo, Vice Governor Jose Riano and Congressman Eleandro Jesus Madrona led the unveiling of the project in Odiongan town.

Ona said the objective of the Health's Facilities Enhancement Program is to upgrade health facilities and provide training to health professionals, and at the same time improve access of people to quality health care services. It also aims to enhance the delivery of basic, essential, and specialized health services in the community.

Also inaugurated were the Romblon Blood Collection Unit and the Conference Hall.

The hospital was upgraded and modernized with an allotment of P138 million in 2010 and 2011 for Phase 1 of the project. It included the repair of the emergency room and intensive care unit, and the construction of a two-storey building for patients’ wards, surgery and obstetrics, out-patient department, x-ray and additional offices for hospital staff.

In 2012, it received an additional P118 million and and P140 million for Phase 2 of the project.

In his inauguration speech, Ona stressed that health is part of the major strategy for poverty reduction and inclusive growth which shall be felt by the poorest of the poor.

"Government hospitals are for the people and if one does not like to be admitted or confined in such facilities, then there must be something wrong. In short, whether it is a government or private hospital, it must be best for all – the services must be the same, the facilities must be, in terms of diagnosis and curative aspects, must be the same. This concept is affirmed today, that public hospitals are not dilapidated but presentable," Ona said in a statement sent by the DOH to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

The Romblon Provincial Hospital is a Level 1 health facility, with a 75-bed capacity and a 63 percent bed occupancy rate. It is operated by the provincial government. Among its existing ancillary services includes a clinical laboratory for blood services, pharmacy, diagnosis, and x-ray and ultrasound services.

"We thank the national government through the DOH for supporting our health programs especially facility development which is a vital necessity for a geographically isolated and disadvantaged area like the archipelagic province of Romblon,’ said Firmalo, who is a medical doctor himself.

"One of our top priorities is health as embodied in our program H.E.A.R.T. – health, education and environment, agriculture, revenue generation, tourism, transparency and true public service – all for the people of Romblon towards sustainable and inclusive development," he said.

Madrona was also elated that Firmalo managed to encourage private doctors to become consultants for Romblon’s hospitals.

"We need this kind of facility and we want our people to have the best health care through this facility towards a better life and we will support any measure that will increase the salary rates of our doctors," Madrona said, who also assured that the funding for the Phase 3 of the hospital shall be appropriated in the 2015 national budget.

With a population of 289,867, Romblon is one of the provinces under DOH Region IV-B. "This hospital is the symbol of hope for the people of Romblon – proof of the Aquino administration’s commitment to the universal health care program for all," said Hospital Chief Dr. Benedict Anatalio.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Close down mining firms violating laws in Philippines

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 13, 2014) - The Alyansa Tigil Mina has called on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Mines and Geosciences Bureau to close down many mining companies in the Philippines found violating environmental laws and those that committed human rights abuses.

This is in light of the recently issued environment protection cases against two Chinese mining companies Liaoning Fenghua Group Philippines Mining Company Inc. and Bohai Top International Mining Corp. for operating without the necessary mineral processing permits in Camarines Norte province.

"We have to stem the tide of mining disasters such as the Marcopper toxic mine tragedy in Marinduque in 1996 and Philex's Padcal mine spill in 2012. The government should immediately shut down those mining companies who found culpable of violations of environmental laws," Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

The government's Executive Oder 79 states that a performance review of all existing mining operations has to be done. It said the performance review can be the basis for the indictment of violating mining companies. This has been the basis of the environmental protection cases filed against the two Chinese mining companies, according to Garganera

He said the mining in the country has taken severe tolls on access to water, health, and the development of agricultural activity and brought about drastic change in the environment. "With climate change already upon us, mining disasters are most likely to happen with a flawed mining law and inadequate regulatory environment. Geo-hazard areas should be declared a no-go zones to mining. This should be immediately acted upon by MGB,” he said.

On April 22, various environmental groups, including ATM will participate in the celebration of Earth Day by holding public actions in different parts of the country.

ATM is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups which are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines.

The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of Executive Order 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and passage of the proposed Alternative Minerals Management Bill which is better than the current mining laws.

Groups perform songs for peace, environment for the Talaingod war evacuees in Philippines

 Natives for fled military offensives in Davao del Norte's Talaingod town enjoy songs by various groups in Davao City in southern Philippines. Two photos sent by Kilab Multimedia to the Mindanao Examiner regional newspaper show young fire performers.

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 13, 2014) - The group Samahan ng mga Artista at Manunulat para sa Bayan or Sambayan held a cultural night for some 927 Talaingod Manobo evacuees from Davao del Norte province now staying at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines Haran compound in the southern Philippine city of Davao.

The performances rendered songs calling for peace and the protection of the ancestral land and the environment.

Niel Cervantes, chairperson of Sambayan, said: “What we are witnessing is only a bit of the rich culture and arts of the Lumad through their dances and songs. But more than our performances, this is a night to unite with the roots of our country.”

“Our lumad sisters and brothers here are calling for the pull-out of military troops in their areas after they experienced aerial bombing and many forms of abuse from the soldiers. Any form of aggression upon their land like military operation ultimately destroys their culture,” he added.

Several artists’ groups from Davao also joined the event - the group Kaliwat, in their songs, expressed their solidarity with the evacuees whom the group considered as “the defenders of Pantaron Range,” the source of all our bodies of water in Mindanao, and the Manobos are the ones defending it against its aggressors like the big logging and mining companies.

The group said sung Agila, a song written by Joey Ayala.

Kathara, also one of the performing groups, rendered the traditional Manobo dance. The groups Silab, Jazzistas de Davao, Spiral and Kuntaw likewise performed.

Children evacuees from the Salugpongan Learning Center in Sitio Dulian also performed, singing their school anthem “Salugpongan”, and “Tagumpay nating lahat” popularized by Lea Salonga.

The group Sambayan stated: “We are joining the evacuees in their quest for genuine peace. We believe in peace that is based on justice- it also means respect for human rights and asserting the rights of the lumads to self-determination and their ancestral domain.”

The group is calling for the immediate resumption of the peace talks between the government and communist rebels as it hopes for the approval of significant agenda in the said negotiation particularly on Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms.

Philippine troops kill Sayyaf gunman in clash

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 13, 2014) – Philippine military officials said one Abu Sayyaf rebel was killed in a brief clash in the southern town of Patikul.

Officials said troops were patrolling the town when they ran into a group of Abu Sayyaf gunmen and a firefight ensued. There was no report of military or civilian casualties in Saturday fighting.

Troops were not able to recover the body of the slain gunman because officials claimed the cadaver was allegedly taken by fleeing rebels.

No other details were made available by the military about the clash or whether the Abu Sayyaf group involved in the fighting was behind the spate of kidnappings and terrorism in the region.

On Friday, troops also battled about 60 Abu Sayyaf rebels who killed two soldiers and wounded 28 others in Basilan, one of five provinces under the troubled Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.

The military said 12 rebels were killed in the fierce clashes, but none of the bodies had been recovered by soldiers and security officials admitted the casualty report came from civilians in the towns of Ungkaya Pukan and Tipo-Tipo where the fighting erupted. 

There was no military confirmation of the report. (Mindanao Examiner)