Thursday, November 29, 2007

MAAS urges Court of Appeals to reverse 60-day TRO


NO TO AERIAL SPRAYING. Members of the Davao based Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (MAAS) in an indignation rally in front of the 22nd Division Court of Appeals in Barangay Puntod, Cagayan de Oro City to ask the appelate court to reverse a 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) issued on November 16, 2007 that favors companies producing bananas in Davao. The protesters are opposing aerial spraying due to health reasons. (Photo by DANTE SUDARIA)

Storm surge displaces 5,000 in 16 coastal towns in Misor; kills 1

CAGAYAN de Oro Journal (Ben Balce / Nov 29) - Massive flooding caused by big waves and strong winds submerged some 16 coastal towns in Misamis Oriental early dawn on Wednesday.

“Big waves and massive flooding left hundreds of destroyed houses and thousand of homeless people,” said Misamis Oriental provincial disaster coordinating council coordinator Teddy Sabugaa.

Sabugaa said the worst flooding that hit several towns in the province, which is situated below sea level, displaced at least 5,245 people or 1,049 families in 44 villages in the said 16 towns.

Sabugaa said the towns affected were Balingasag, Lagonglong, Villanueva, Tagoloan, Balingoan, Sugbong-Cogon, Lugait, Initao, Salay, Jasaan, Libertad, Manticao, Kinoguitan,Naawan, Binoangan, and Magsayasay.

Sabugaa said the storm surge composed of intense waves started at 7 p.m. Tuesday until 2 a.m. Wednesday.

Over local radio (Bombo radio), an unidentified old man in Jasaan town was reportedly killed in heart attack due to big waves and strong winds.

“We are still looking the real caused of his death including his identity,” said Jasaan town Mayor Redentor Jardin.

Philippine Institute of Volcanology & Seismology (Philvolcs) based in Camiguin province confirmed that strong winds and big waves were due to the effect of typhoons Lando and Mina.

“Walang tsunami, dahil nasa lupa ang effect,” said resident volcanologist Salugsugan.

Salugsugan even said that earthquake happened in some areas in the country including Metro Manila on Tuesday afternoon affected and have the storm surge.

According to the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) of Misamis Oriental, some 165 houses were destroyed while 373 others were partially damaged.
Sabugaa said heavy floods also damaged a 4.2 hectares rice field in Lagonglong and CVO (Civilian Volunteer Office) out post in Lugait town.

He also said the effects of giant waves damaged several fishing boats. Number of fishing boats that were totally damage were 2 in Lagonglong, 5 in Magsaysay, 2 in Binoangan, and 2 in Kinoguitan.

Sabugaa even said the storm surge also damaged a 12-meter sea wall in Naawan as it was totally washed away by big waves including sea wall in Manticao that was partially damaged.

Sabugaa said the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist did not yet give the total crop loss as they were still waiting other reports.

“Distributions of relief goods are ongoing in the east and west part of Misamis Oriental, as victims really need used clothes and foods in the evacuation centers in their respective areas,” said Sabugaa.

Misamis Oriental Philippine Rescue 2000 president Michael Angelo Bustamante said the affected families were in terrible need of assistance from concerned partners and individuals.

“Most of the displaced persons do not have a home to go back to because these were either swept away by the tidal surge,” said Bustamante.
Bustamante said the victims of floods were also in need of food, materials to build shelter, medicines, clothes, kitchen utensils, and other basic necessities to augment their everyday living.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Arroyo urges Mindanao leaders to unite

CAGAYAN de Oro Journal ( Ben Balce / Nov23) - President Gloria Macapagal-Aroyo called on the religious leaders of Mindanao to work together during the opening of the Bishops-Ulama Conference, Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police (BUC-AFP-PNP) Forum for Peace held at Pryce Hotel, this city late last week.

She even urged the people to rally their support, unity and cooperation to eradicate hunger and poverty in the country.

The President reiterated that Love of Country is one spirit that makes people move forward in her message to the participants.

Army's 4th Infantry Division (4ID) commanding general Major General Jose Barbieto earlier said that the BUC-AFP-PNP forum for peace promotes and supports the process of building bridges of peace with the peace officers from the AFP and PNP by holding dialogues in attaining peace.

"The Peace Forum aims to encourage the promotion of peace, mutual understanding, acquaintances and fellowship among Christians and Muslims amid religious diversity," said Barbieto.

Barbieto said the AFP and PNP are mandated by law to maintain, promote, and protect peace and order in our country.

"The Bishops-Ulama (Buc) is committed to the principle of Respect as the only way of human and humane way of solving problems and conflicts," said Barbieto.

4ID's civil military operations chief Lt. Colonel Emmanuel Sinogba said the President called on the participants to be united in turning the country into a First World nation.

Sinogba said the President was supposed to speak to the participants of the forum, but bad weather in Manila prevented her from flying in to the city.

Sinogba said Arroyo was able to send in a copy of her speech which was read by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza.

"The peace forum aims for total reconciliation, repentance in the culture of peace and forgiveness that supports the peace process between the government and rebel groups," said Sinogba.

Arroyo in her short message, read by Sec. Jesus Dureza, emphasized on the "Socio-Economic Development' program of the government.

Nations must love and take care of the Armed Forces to preserve the nations they are sworn to protect, based on the current guiding points of soldiers in building a "Strong Republic" the President further said.

Sinogba said the AFP hosted the Bishops-Ulama Peace Forum with Arroyo, as the Guest of Honor and Speaker during the occasion on Nov. 15-16, 2007.

The two-day interfaith affair with the theme, "Building Bridges of Peace With our Peace Officers," is a yearly activity participated in by Bishops-Ulama Conference (Buc) members who are leaders and clerics of Christian and Muslim religious groups from the AFP-PNP to support the Peace Process in Mindanao.

Sinogba added that the BUC forum started in November 1996, after the signing of the Peace Agreement between the (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) with the mission to help attain a lasting peace in Mindanao.

Major AFP services, unified command, division and brigade commanders in Mindanao attended the said activity which included Lt Gen Alexander Yano, Lt Gen Horacio Tolentino, EASTMINCOM Commander Lt General Cardozo Luna, and Western Mindanao Commander, Major General Nelson Allaga.

Others who attended were Major Gen Alexander Pajarito, to include their respective chiefs, chaplains, Pastors and Imams, and Brig Gen Roland Rodriguez, Assistant 4ID Commander, Civil Military operations personnel led by Lt Colonel Sinogba of G7, 4ID, Lt Colonel Greg T Almerol, CRS, AFP, Major Edgar Rivas, 52nd CRU, 5th CRG, CRS, AFP, and Captain Arnaldo L Manjares, Commanding Officer, 4th CMOU, Civil-Military Operations Group, PA.

The Buc convenors who attended the peace forum included Davao Archdiocese Archbishop Fernando R Capalla, representing the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Bishop Emeritus Hilario M Gomez, of the National Church of Christ in the Philippines (NCCP) and Dr. Mahid M Mutilan, President of the Ulama League of the Philippines (ULP) representing the Muslim sector.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

AFP hosts BUC-AFP-PNP peace forum


CAGAYAN de Oro Journal (Ben Balce / Nov 21) - The Armed Forces of the Philippines hosted a two-day Bishops-Ulama conference (BUC) APF-PNP Forum for Peace with the theme: "Building Bridges with our Peace officers" relative to the 33rd general assembly of the BUC held at Pryce Plaza Hotel, Cagayan de Oro City, military officials said Tuesday.

"This forum promotes a greater understanding in the attainment of lasting peace where the military and police are given good insight about their role in peace process," said AFP chief General Hermogenes Esperon.

Esperon in his welcome remarks said in the process, this activates their support command to peace and development area by which it complements in the work of the Bishops-Ulama Conference.

Primarily the office of the AFP's J7 under Brigadier General Alfredo Cayton hosted the two-day forum.

The Army's 4th Infantry Division commanding general and the BUC-AFP-PNP committee chairman Major General Jose Barbieto said the AFP's participation in this endeavor will enhance closer relationship with the various Christians and Muslim religious groups in Mindanao.

"It is an opportunity for the AFP to showcase its sincerity in supporting the peace advocacy of the inter-faith groups," said Barbieto adding that the government is an active partner in pursuing peace and development in the region.

4ID's civil military operations chief Lt. Colonel Emmanuel Sinogba said the participants are composed of 24 catholic bishops who are members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, (CBCP), 26 Ulama and Ustadz, members of the Ulama League of the Philippines, (ULP), and 18 Protestant Bishops and Pastors who are members of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines.

Sinogba said that 38 military officers including military chaplains from the AFP headed by EASMINCOM chief Lieutenant General Cardoso Luna and 14 officers from the PNP led by Police Regional Office 10 (PRO 10) head Chief Supt. Teodorico Capuyan.

The Convenors of the conference were Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao Archdiocese, Ulama League of the Philippines president Dr. Mahid Mutilan, and Bishop Mariano Gomez Jr, Bishop Emeritus of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines.

"All the participants were given a chance to participate during the discussion," said Sinogba adding that a healthy and constructive dialogue with the peace officers through out the region participated.

Sinogba said that a lawyer Alonto of Marawi City asked the BUC to resolve and asked the DepEd to integrate Peace Education in elementary and high school levels.

Cagayan de Oro's 1st District Representative Rufus Rodriguez mentioned that he proposed for a meeting with BUC and Mindanao legislators to come up with a better interfaith understanding.

Archbishop Capalla, the BUC convenor, mentioned that the CRSAFP orchestrated a Peace Initiative in Mindanao and he also requested the AFP and PNP ground commanders to attend peace initiatives at the local level.

The Bishops Ulama conference is in pursuit of a common vision, these religious leaders organized themselves whose mission is to support the ongoing peace process in the region to promote mutual knowledge and understanding, acquaintance and friendship as well as reconciliation through repentance and forgiveness as indispensable dements of the culture of justice and peace for total development and progress in Mindanao.

Sinogba said the last day of the conference was held at the Dynasty Hotel, in Cagayan de Oro City as continuing efforts on peace building.

The forum was formally opened at 9:30 am at the conference of the Dynasty Hotel with interfaith prayer led by religious leaders (Priest and Imam) and followed by the opening statement of Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro City.

Archbishop Capalla, one of the convenor, read about the Proclamation Nr. 127 signed by PGMA last Nov. 26 2001, declaring the last Thursday of November up to the first Wednesday of December of every year, as the "Mindanao Week for Peace" celebration.

Sinogba said that all the participants came up with their plans for the forthcoming Mindanao Week for Peace Celebration on Nov. 29 until Dec. 5, 2007.

The groups came up as they presented their output during the conference according to Sinogba.

The groups came up with their plans such as: "Bishops and Ulamas inter religious gathering for interfaith prayers," "Walk for Peace," "Caravan for Peace," and "Convocation Program of all Elementary, High School and College Level" in their respective areas in commemoration of the Mindanao Week for Peace Celebration.

"Even Archbishop Capalla was impressed on the result of the workshop presented by the different group leaders," said Sinogba.

"The BUC forum with its life long processes on dialoguing with the different stakeholders in the society, continue to exert efforts by making a covenant to share the dynamics happening from the top down to lowest level," said Sinogba adding that the efforts have been filtered in achieving a comprehensive and lasting peace in Mindanao.

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food for thought for journalists and editors


not to promote denzel, but to think on the questions asked at the end of the message -- food for thought for journalists and editors... indeed, WHY???


The Media Missed this one!!!! Please read this,

then send it to everybody you know. They'll thank you as they forward this to others as well.

































Subject: Denzel Washington, and Brooks Army Medical Center Don't know whether you heard about this but Denzel Washington and his family visited the troops at Brook Army Medical Center , in San Antonio , Texas (BAMC) the other day. This is where soldiers who have been evacuated fromGermany come to be hospitalized in the UnitedStates, especially burn victims. There are some buildings there called Fisher Houses. The Fisher House is a Hotel where soldiers' families can stay, for little or no charge, while their soldier is staying in the Hospital. BAMC has quite a few of these houses on base, but as you can imagine, they are almost filled most of the time.While Denzel Washington was visiting BAMC, they gave him a tour of one of the Fisher Houses. He asked how much one of them would cost to build. He took his checkbook out and wrote a check for the? full amount right thereon the spot. The soldiers overseas were amazed to hearthis story and want to get the word out to the American public, because it warmed their hearts to hear it.


The question I have is why does:


Brad Pitt,


Madonna,


Tom Cruise


and other Hollywood fluff

make front pa ge news with their ridiculous antics and Denzel Washington's Patriotism doesn't even make page 3 in the Metro section of any newspaper except the Local newspaper in San Antonio .


This needs as wide a distribution as we can create
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First Mindanao agriculture forum starts today

CAGAYAN de Oro Journal (Ben Balce / Nov 21) — The College of Agriculture of Xavier University, in collaboration with its partners, is convening the First Mindanao Agriculture Forum starting today until Friday.



Trel Borja, forum coordinator, said the forum intends to articulate issues, formulate resolutions and adopt a declaration as a commitment towards a more sustainable and equitable agriculture development in Mindanao.

Borja said the this year’s forum carrying the theme, "Strengthening Partnerships in Agriculture for Mindanao Development" will bring together the leaders in agriculture, including farmers, agri-industries, civil society organizations, academe and research institutions, local government units, financial institutions and government agencies.

Borja said that they are expecting over 200 participants in a side forum in which students from agriculture schools will compete in 10 skills and four literary contests.

The competing seven schools in Northern Mindanao are Central Mindanao University, Mountain View College, Misamis Oriental State College of Science and Technology, Misamis University, Camiguin Polytechnic State College, Northern Mindanao State College of Science and Technology, and Xavier University.

On Nov. 23, Friday, a multi-stakeholder Mindanao Agriculture Forum will culminate the event at the Pryce Plaza Hotel covering a wide range of topics including climate change to be presented by XU President, Fr. Jett Villarin; Agriculture for Peace and Development by Usec Dimasangcay Pundato of the Office of Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process; and Prospects for Mindanao by Carolina Figueroa Geron of the World Bank.

The Mindanao Agriculture Forum is made possible with the help of its partners: Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc., Philippine Development Assistance Programme, Peace and Equity Foundation, Asian NGO Coalition, Xavier Science Foundation and the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit 10, together with national government agencies and local government units.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Floods hit Iligan, Mis Or towns, 1 killed, 2 missing

CAGAYAN de Oro City (Ben Balce / Nov 20) — One person was killed and two others were reported missing after flashfloods hit Iligan City and towns in Misamis Oriental Monday.

Chief Insp. Benbo Jumalon, police chief of Opol town, identified the fatality as an Eliza Osip, 47. Those who were reported missing in Manticao and Tagoloan have not yet been identified.

Jumalon said Osip was living under the Iponan bridge and fell into the water. She was found dead on the shore of Zone 1 later.

Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar Moreno said continuous rains and flooding caused landslides in Manticao and Magsaysay.

He said, however, that the floods are "manageable," relief operations are already ongoing and the provincial engineering office is working at the repair of roads made impassable by landslides.

Iligan City Mayor Lawrence Cruz said over DxIF Bombo Radio that residents of nine barangays have been affected by flashfloods.

In a phone interview, he said all vehicles going to Lanao del Norte are being rerouted to Barangay Tambacan after Tubod Bridge cracked reportedly due to a cyclone.

Cruz said they are still quantifying the damage wrought on farms and other sources of livelihood in the area.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Mindanao religious leaders, AFP, PNP hold peace forum in Oro

CAGAYAN de Oro City (Ben Balce / Nov 16) — The entire city has been placed under heightened security alert and police personnel have been augmented since Thursday by City police director Supt. Antonio Montalba with the two-day peace forum between the Bishop-Ulama Conference and the Armed Forces and National Police ongoing at the Pryce Plaza here.


President Arroyo was supposed to arrive past noon yesterday to join the meeting with the 79-strong BUC membership of Muslim and Christian religious leaders based in Mindanao, and 51 officers of the AFP and the PNP but her trip was cancelled due to bad weather.


President Arroyo, with the AFP, was also scheduled to host the peace forum today as BUC holds its 33rd general assembly at Dynasty Court Hotel in this city.


Montalba said the scheduled conferences will go on today even if the President does not make it here. He said tight security plans, encompassing travel route, activities, and accommodations, are already in place for the President as well as the 500 participants in the forum.


The forum’s theme is "Building Bridges of Peace with our Peace Officers."


Lt. Col. Emmanuel Sinogba, civil military operations’ chief of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said the forum’s purpose is to promote inter-faith understanding, religious tolerance, friendship and constructive dialogues.


Msgr. Rey Monsanto, vicar general of the Cagayan archdiocese, said the forum will identify problems and difficulties blocking the achievement of peace in Mindanao and an action agenda will be drawn up to "strengthen local mechanisms for peace."


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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sagun: Curfew is for everybody

CAGAYAN de Oro City (Ben Balce / Nov 15) - The army's 4th Infantry Division spokesman Major Samuel sagun Tuesday maintained that the curfew implemented inside the camp is legal.

"The curfew is for everybody. No exemption and apply it even you are a civilian or military personnel. The camp is doing it for security reasons," said Sagun.

Sagun answered a complaint after a certain Elizabeth Suganog asked some help over a local radio Wednesday accusing some high-ranking military officials of implementing the curfew" illegally."

"This is too much. We believed that they are doing this as if we are the plaintiffs," said Suganog.

Suganog with Camp Evangelista Neighborhood Association Inc. president Rogelio Serquina, a retired colonel, went to Bombo Radio yesterday to ask for some help to hear their grievances against the alleged barring of Cenai members from entering the Camp.

The 4ID and Cenai has an ongoing land claim dispute.

The solicitor general ordered the 4ID officials to demolish and clear the camp from informal settlers.
Suganog even called the military officials particularly 4ID commanding general Jose Barbieto as implementing rules and regulations with no consideration.

"We arrived at 8:15 p.m. (Tuesday night) and not yet on their 10 pm curfew, but upon knowing that I am Suganog (one of the plaintiffs and a member of Cenai) gi-hold nila ang akong salakyan without clear violations," said Suganog.

Suganog claimed that she is the Sons and Daughters of Veterans regional director in Region 10.

"Basta miyembro ka sa plaintiff hindi ka na makasulod sa Camp," said Suganog over DxIF Bombo Radio.

Suganog was even shocked as the military police barred from entering even her 70-year-old mother who she claimed has been living inside the camp for more than 40 years already.

She said that she was asked by the military police to sign as she is known and allow her to get inside, but still it did not happen.

"How come they barred us from entering the camp? We are residents and hasa been staying inside there a long time ago," said Suganog adding even her mother's car which is always entering in and out of the camp was disallowed to get inside.

However, Sagun replied: "Hindi na bago yan (curfew) inside the camp. The camp implemented that a long time ago."

Sagun said the curfew is being implemented even before the dispute started with the informal settlers, particularly the Camp Evangelista Neighborhood Association Inc. (Cenai).

"Even myself was the victim of the said rules inside the camp, walang specific sa rules, apply ni sa tanan," said Sagun adding: "As long as you enter late of 10 p.m., the rule would be implemented."

Sagun even said that all military camps nationwide are enforcing curfews as part of the protection of the Camp from any threat.


"The 4ID is a military camp and not an ordinary place or land that is open 24 hours to the public," said Sagun.

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Anonymous has left a comment on your post.
Anonymous said...
we,as residents of camp evangelista, have known that there is curfew observed in the camp. this was implemented years and years ago, and we hav curfew at 10pm. we also have IDs to identify that we live inside the camp. Major sagun,we do not question that rule, however, whenever we ask the guard to let us enter, handing them our IDS, when they know that we live from a zone who filed a complaint against the command, the military police /security wont let us enter. that is what ms. suganob is trying to ask,and question.

major sagun is not clearly answering the question/issue raised by ms.suganob! i hope people wont be biased. residents know better because we experienced this intimidation ourselves.

From Sandals to Suits, Wahab Akbar, the Rebel turned Politician

By SAMIRA GUTOC

“Throughout my life I was a laborer, I was a driver, I was an operator of heavy equipment, I was a bakery owner, I was a fishpond owner, I was a fish broker, I was a banana broker, I was a cigarette smuggler, I was a coconut harvester, I was a rebel, I was a student of an agricultural school at the Gregorio Araneta University Foundation then. I was an activist against Marcos, I was a student of Islamic Theology, I was a preacher, I was the deputy commander of the MNLF,” controversial Basilan Congressman Wahab Akbar, 47, said in his first and last privilege speech on July 31 calling on military coordination with Basilan residents in the planned strike on Basilan on the killing of 10 military personnel by suspected MILF .

Add being a former Abu Sayyaf, three-term governor and now congressman in the last days of his life, sums up the colorful history of this charismatic politician, who drew ire against his political enemies for his padrino politics and yet reverence from his loyalists.

The lawmaker was killed from injuries from a bomb blast Tuesday evening, when police found a bomb to have been planted on a motorcycle parked near Akbar’s Fortuner car parked near the lobby of the House.

Anak Mindanao Representative Mujiv Hataman, a fellow Yakan (ethnic grouping), said there are multiple possibilities on the causes of the blast. "There were threats on life of Akbar," DILG Secretary Reynato Puno said. "The indications are that that was the case both in terms of location of the bomb and the manner it was set off."

President Gloria Arroyo consoled his first wife, Jum, the governor of Basilan. The two other wives are Cherrylyn, mayor of Isabela City and Nurin, who ran for mayor of Lamitan town.

The Citizens Anti-Dynasty Movement notes that it's the first time that a man and his multiple wives have become elected officials at both the national and provincial level. Seven other politicians related to Congressman Akbar by bloodline, including a niece, nephew and several cousins, also won election victories in smaller towns around the island, which were affected by political violence in the last elections.

Akbar was a controversial figure having been touted to have founded ASG with Khadafi Janjalani, but later had distanced himself from the group upon entry in politics. "Mr. Speaker, when I joined politics, there were accusations that I was the founder of the bullshit Abu Sayyaf. Nung buhay pa sila, problema ko na, hanggang sa patay na sila problema ko pa rin," he said in his privilege speech.

Beyond the ASG, Akbar talks of a poor life as a child in his hometown in Lamitan. “When I went to school at the age of Seven (7), I used to report to my classes even without slippers, and worked as a bangkero and sold popsicles to earn,: he narrated in his privilege speech.

He claims he ran for governor in 1998 without using any centavo but garnered support from the locals.

Akbar had helped the government in its anti-terrorism campaign against the Abu Sayyaf group (ASG) on Basilan island, where the militants are on the run from a massive military manhunt. He supported US presence in Basilan and launched armed campaigns against the ASG.

In the same privilege speech, he revealed the names of 4 locals responsible for the beheading of the military personnel in al Barka municipality. He also reminded the government to investigate the deaths of an imam and cautioned against military force. “Why should they inflict injury above injuries? Why should they use their budget in search for the beheaders through a huge number of soldiers instead of using it in helping me plant more rubbers so that there will be no beheading in the future? Why wouldn't they cooperate with the local leaders in order to settle the problem by not inflicting more problems?

Dubbed the Terror of Basilan by Newsbreak, Akbar denies he had links with ASG founder Abdurajak Janjalani or his group. In his early days as a imam, he preached jihad (holy war) during his sermons when he came back to Basilan after six months in Libya in the 80s, the Newsbreak notes.

Akbar, who used to wear a thoub, a longsleeved one-piece dress that covers the whole body, a white pilgrim’s cap, and a goatee, made his mark as a charismatic preacher in Basilan. However, he distinguished himself from Janjalani, who also preached jihad when he came home from Libya .

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said Akbar was helpful in the peace process. Former Lanao del Sur Vice Governor Nurmalah Lucman said his death was a “big loss to the Muslims.” Former Sulu Provincial Administrator Engineer Don Loong notes Akbar’s wisdom in promoting rubber to uplift the economy.

And in his words, Akbar departs from his beginnings as a rebel and calls for peace. "Mr. Speaker, let's give Peace all chances that it needs if only to ensure the welfare of our children, and the children yet to come in my province. Lastly whatever wisdom I have delivered it's from the blessings of the Almighty. On the other hand, whatever unfavorable thoughts that I may have said, it's only personal to me."With a population of more than 300,000, Basilan is subject of US funding support as part of the war on terror. An ASG researcher , Joe Torres notes that while Muslims constitute 71 percent of the Basilan population Christians own 75 percent of the land. The Chinese control 75 percent of business.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Suspect in shooting of radio commentator in Iligan nabbed


CAGAYAN de Oro City - (Mike Baños/Nov 11) - Police operatives swooped down and nabbed one the prime suspects in the October 8 shooting of Iligan broadcaster Jose "Joe" Pantoja at his residence in Iligan early Saturday afternoon.


SURVIVOR. Iligan-based radio "blocktimer" Jose "Joe" Pantoja speaks about the Oct. 8 attempt on his life during a news conference at the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC). Pantoja who started his career in the media in Cagayan de Oro, is a COPC member.

Philip Ken Jaudian, spokesman of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club's Task Force Pantoja, identified the suspect as Romeo Vequizo.

"Vequizo was arrested by elements of the Iligan police around 2:30PM Saturday, November 10, 2007, at his residence in Barangay Acmac," Jaudian told members of the COPC board shortly after their regular meeting in Cagayan de Oro City.

"He has been moved to the ICPO headquarters for further investigation." The arresting team was led by Supt. Lemuel Ga, deputy chief of operations of the Iligan City Police Office (ICPO) and team leader of the Special Operations Unit (SOU) of Task Force Usig, which was created to probe the spate of extrajudicial shootings of journalists all over the country.

Vequizo was earlier identified in a press statement as a former bodyguard of Rep. Vicente "Varf" Belmonte (1st District, Lanao del Norte/Iligan City) by Divina Suson, information officer of Belmonte's Iligan congressional district office.

However, Suson stressed in the same statement that Vequizo was terminated for cause by Belmonte's office in 2005 and has since not been connected with the congressman's office.

Jaudian said Vequizo was earlier reported to have been hiding in the hinterlands of Bgy. Rogongon, Iligan City's biggest barangay which borders Lanao del Sur province.

Vequizo was identified by Jaudian as one of the two suspected gunmen who sent him surrender feelers asking for protection against the alleged mastermind.

Jaime L. Umpa, regional state prosecutor for Region X, told media during a press conference hosted by the Cagayan de Oro Press Club's "Task Force Pantoja" Monday his office could place the suspects under its Witness Protection Program in return for their testimonies in naming the mastermind behind the shooting.

Umpa also stressed that the charges against the suspects have not been downgraded from attempted murder to attempted homicide as reported by some media outlets.

"I personally called the Iligan city prosecutor and he informed me there has been no change in the charges," Umpa said.

"I also assure you there will be no downgrading of the charges to homicide while I am regional state prosecutor." As regional state prosecutor, Umpa has jurisdiction over the DOJ prosecutors in Region 10.

Lawyer Roberto Goking, who is a member of the COPC's Prosecution Team led by Lawyer and Past COPC President Frederico Gapuz, explained that downgrading the charges from attempted murder to attempted homicide is tantamount to admitting the assassination attempt was not premeditated.

"It would also have the effect of absolving the master mind from any culpability of the crime," Goking said.Pantoja sustained five gunshot wounds from two .45-cal. fired by two assailants who later fled from the scene aboard a motorcycle.

He was hospitalized in Iligan and traveled under heavy guard to Cagayan de Oro Monday to personally thank the Cagayan de Oro Press Club for their support.

Umpa said the "least guilty" of the three suspects, in this case the driver of the getaway motorcycle that whisked the two gunmen from the scene, could qualify for state witness.

"We can not only reduce his sentence but even completely absolve him of the crime provided he identifies the true mastermind behind this shooting," Umpa said.

Umpa said the two other suspects can also seek clemency under the Department of Justice's Witness Protection Program if they testify against the mastermind of the failed assassination attempt.

A number of eyewitnesses who personally saw the incident have already been placed under the same program to protect themselves and their families. Pantoja and his family have likewise been placed under the custody of the DOJ's Witness Protection Program.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Saudi gov't pledges support to peace, development efforts in Sulu

JOLO, Sulu (CDO Journal / Nov 9) – Saudi Arabia has pledged to support peace and development projects in the largely Muslim province of Sulu in southern the Philippines.

Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan said they are preparing several proposals for infrastructure and other development projects after Saudi Ambassador to Manila, Mohammed Ameen Wali, assured him of his country's support.

"Saudi is very supportive of our peace and development efforts and we are now preparing several project proposals that will help alleviate the situation of the poor in Sulu," Tan told reporters.

Saudi Embassy also donated five cases of preserved dates which would be distributed to the poor and victims of a recent fire in Sulu province, said Tan, who met with Wali in Manila this week.

Saudi's support to Sulu, Tan said, would help alleviate the situation of many poor people in the province and can even provide them livelihood through various anti-poverty programs.

"The support of Saudi Arabia (to Sulu) will surely bring peace and development and livelihood worthy of human dignity. We are launching our own jihad towards the attainment of peace and unity. Other forms of jihad, particularly violent jihad is primitive," Tan said.

Saudi Arabia previously signed a US$20 million loan agreement for the development of Mindanao roads project. The loan agreement financing was sourced from the US$100 million pledge under the Saudi Fund for Development (SDF).

Saudi Arabia , an influential member of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), is also supporting the peace process in the southern Philippines.

It will also host a three-day Tripartite Meeting between the OIC, the Philippines and the former rebel group, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), starting Saturday in Jeddah Tan said the meeting will discuss the implementation of the 1996 peace accord between Manila and the MNLF headed by its jailed chieftain Nur Misuari regarding the situation in the southern Philippines.

Misuari is facing rebellion charges after his forces tried, but failed to overrun a military base on the island in 2000. Misuari, disgusted with the peace agreement, fled to Malaysia, but was arrested there and later deported to Manila. He accused Manila of reneging in the peace deal and for failing to uplift the poor living standards of many Muslims in the South.

Under the agreement, the Philippines is to provide a mini-marshal plan and housing and livelihood to tens of thousands of former rebels. Philippine authorities have allowed Misuari to attend the tripartite meeting, Tan said.

Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, OIC Secretary General, has welcomed Manila's decision to allow Misuari to participate in the meeting. OIC had sent a high-level delegation to the southern Philippines to assess the volatile situation last year.

The opening of the tripartite conference will be preceded by an expanded meeting of the Indonesia-led Committee of Eight, in-charge of southern Philippines.

Sporadic fighting between Filipino troops and MNLF forces still continue in many areas in southern Philippines, despite the peace deal. MNLF rebels signed the deal with Manila, but the government allowed them to keep their huge inventory of high-power weapons, mostly automatic rifles, anti-tank rockets and machine guns.

They later accused the Arroyo government of failing to comply with the accord. Former rebels also seized a delegation of senior military officials in Sulu earlier this year after reports of a scheduled tripartite meeting on Feb. 6-8 in Jeddah had been shelved off by the Arroyo government.

The hostages were later freed after the Philippine government agreed to proceed with the tripartite conference. The gunmen also demanded Manila to free Misuari so he can lead the MNLF to the meeting. (Sulu Provincial Media Desk)

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Group to write execs in alleged Palace payoffs 'Nakatanggap ka ba?' meant to prick conscience

By Fe ZamoraInquirer Last updated 07:43pm (Mla time) 10/22/2007

MANILA, Philippines -- Local government executives who had breakfast with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on October 11 will be sent letters by civil society groups asking them, "Nakatanggap ka ba?" (Did you receive money?) and, "Anong gagawin mo?" (What will you do with it?).

The questions were designed "to prick their conscience," said Vicente Romano III, a convenor of the Black and White Movement, which has called for Arroyo's resignation.

"This is clearly a moral crisis," Romano said of the reported distribution of cash gifts, as much as half a million pesos to each government official who attended the meeting called by Arroyo in the Palace the other week, just as a new impeachment complaint was filed against her.

Romano led members of civil society groups in a consultative forum on what to do in the midst of this new crisis facing the Arroyo administration.

The multi-sectoral Black and White Movement also intensified its pressure for Arroyo to resign by calling for a boycott of companies identified with the President and her allies.

These companies would include the Manila Standard Today newspaper, a daily broadsheet published by Enrique Razon, a close friend of Arroyo's husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, who has been linked to the controversial ZTE broadband deal.

According to Romano, "pricking the conscience" of officials who support Arroyo is intended to make them see the immorality of bribery, and hopefully push them to "withdraw support" from the President.

He said civil society groups would also initiate an information campaign on the bribery scandals that hit the Arroyo administration.

Imelda Nicolas, a former Arroyo Cabinet member who resigned amid the so-called "Hello Garci" scandal in July 2005, said "calling for GMA's [Arroyo's initials] resignation was not enough."

The Hello Garci scandal revolved around a recording of a tapped phone conversation, in 2004, between Arroyo and then election commissioner Virgilio Garcillano about the status of her one-million- vote lead in the presidential election. The President apologized for her "lapse of judgment" in calling an election official but denied she cheated in the polls.

Nicolas said officials who were Arroyo's "pillars of moral support" should withdraw, a move similar to what the so-called "Hyatt 10" did two years ago.

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UPLM says Human Security Act is 'anti-people'

UNION of People's lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) secretary general Carlos Zarate, (2nd from left) speaks to Cagayan de Oro media the depressing effect of the Human Security Act (HSA) being implemented by the Arroyo administration. UPLM even condemned the implemented Act as “even worse than PP1017, CPR and EO464” in a press conference held at Philtown Hotel. UPLM maintains that the people are concerned about maintaining peace, order and stability not the HSA. From left are UPLM lawyers Jose Begil, Jr., deputy secretary general; Federico Gapuz, Chairman; Emillano Delivenio, Vice Chairman; and Eduardo Estores, Chairperson Davao City chapter. (Photo by DANTE SUDARIA)

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

COPC wants Pantoja case heard in Cagayan de Oro

CAGAYAN de Oro Journal – (Oct 16)- Officials of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC) yesterday said they would work to have suspects in the Pantoja case tried in Cagayan de Oro even as they expressed fears of another attack on the wounded Iligan broadcaster.

The COPC announced this even as prominent Cagayan de Oro lawyer Frederico Gapuz accepted the task of heading the organization’s legal team formed to help or lead in the prosecution of the suspects.

Whether the COPC legal team would collaborate prosecution efforts or would lead in the prosecution of the suspects would depend on wounded broadcaster Jose “Joe” Pantoja, said Gapuz, a former president of COPC.

The National Bureau investigation (NBI) filed on Tuesday charges against three suspects identified by Pantoja as Ding Galvez, Romeo Vequiso and Romeo Ragasajo.

Broadcaster Philip Kenn Jaudian was tasked by the COPC to lead the group’s independent investigation into the Pantoja case.

COPC president Jerry Orcullo said Pantoja and his family were facing risks in Iligan.

Jaudian claimed that members of Pantoja’s household have reported to have seen suspicious-looking men on motorcycles near the broadcaster’s home even after last week’s attack.

“We have reason to believe that Pantoja and his family are danger. We think it is best that they go back to Cagayan de Oro and that the case is heard here,” said Orcullo.

The COPC also expressed fears that the suspects, who are still at large, would be “silenced.”

“We urge them to surrender. We believe that the suspects are in danger, too,” said Orcullo.

Last week’s attempt on Pantoja’s life is widely perceived to have been an attempt to stop him from going on air with his stinging commentaries on local politics, corruption and organized crime.

Jaudian said the suspects are all identified with a politician who Pantoja criticized on air.

Pantoja, according to Jaudian, told him the attempt on his life was related to politics and that the attack was masterminded by an influential person.


Pantoja had just brought a child to school and was having a document photocopied when armed men shot him two Mondays ago in downtown Iligan. His intestines and liver were hit by bullets. (Gold Star Daily)

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Muslims celebrate 'Eid Al-Fitr'; mark to end Ramadan

CAGAYAN de Oro Journal (Oct.12) – Muslims in the southern Philippines on Friday celebrated the Eid Al-Fitr that marked the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

About 10,000 Muslims, led by Governor Sakur Tan, converge in front of the Sulu provincial capitol in southern Philippines to pray Friday Oct. 12, 2007 that marked the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and signals the start of the celebration of Eid Al-Fitr, where Muslims feast on food and revelry. (Sulu Provincial Media Desk)

Some 10,000 Muslims, led by Gov. Sakur Tan, converged in front of the Sulu provincial capitol in Patikul town where they performed the Eid prayer and thousands more in different town across Sulu.

"This is a celebration of faith, a renewal of the Muslim faith and the time to help the less fortunate or the poor. Muslims are celebrating the Eid all over the world and we, in Sulu celebrate the blessings of God and that is peace and prosperity," Tan said.

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims observe a strict fast and participate in pious activities such as charitable giving and peace-making. And at the end of Ramadan, Muslims throughout the world observe a joyous three-day celebration called Eid al-Fitr of the Festival of Fast-Breaking.

Eid al-Fitr is a time to give in charity to those in need, and celebrate with family and friends the completion of a month of blessings and joy. "The Eid (celebration) brings us, our family together. We eat and celebrate and pray together and thank Allah for all the blessings in life. It is also the time to help the poor," one worshipper, Ibrahim Usman, said in a separate interview. (Sulu Provincial Media Desk)

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Six white slavery suspects nabbed, 7 girls saved

By BENJAMIN BALCE

CAGAYAN de Oro Journal - (PatNational Bureau of Investigation agents rescued seven girls from alleged sex den and arrested six people, including its owners, during a raid in Purok 10-C-2, Tambak Lower Doongan in Butuan City on Thursday evening.

Arrested were Cherry Corcullo, 33, her common-law husband Roque Makilang, alias Oking, 21, of General Santos; Bernaderick Barbado, 24, of Veruela, Agusan del Sur; Rowena Arcala, 24, of Bitan-agan, Butuan City;Charlesbeth Que, 20, also of Butuan; and Olibert Orcullo, 26, of San Agustin, Surigal del Sur.

NBI special investigator for Caraga Joel Vernon Femalino said the girls were all of minors and were from Surigao City, Surigao del Sur, Butuan City, Agusan del Sur and Agusan del Norte.

The raid was carried out on the strength of a search warrant issued by Judge Edgar Manilag based on a complaint filed by mother of one of the victims.

In a sworn satatement, the woman said her 13-year old daughter ran away from home. She said she found her daughter last week in front of D’ Arthur restaurant on Montilla Boulevard while waiting for customers.

The woman said she took her daughter home and there, she confided that she was recruited by an underaged commercial sex worker.

The woman said her daughter was promised to be housed in a comfortable place, good food and nice clothes. The girl was also allegedly promised a mobile phone in exchange for accepting work from Corcullo and Makilang.

The woman said the girl started working last month and stayed a house leased out to Corcullo at Lower Doongan. There, other minors were allegedly turned into commercial sex workers under heavy guard.

But instead of a comfortable living conditions, the woman said her daughter was only given money for her food and billed for her stay in the house.

Every night, the girls were allegedly brought to Montilla Boulevard where they were to wait for costumers until 4 am the following morning.

The raiding NBI team swooped down on the alleged sex den at around 4pm, rounded up the six suspects and rescued seven girls.


Fermalino said the suspects would be charged with child trafficking for commercial prostitution.

Wounded radioman identifies attacker


CAGAYAN de Oro Journal (Ben Balce / Oct 12) — Radio commentator Jose "Joe" Pantoja, who was shot on Oct. 8 in Iligan City, has furnished police the name of one of his assassins after he woke up at the intensive care unit, a police official said yesterday.


THE GUNMEN. Pantoja shows to Cagayan de Oro mediamen the cartographic sketch of the three suspects during a press conference held at the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC).

Pantoja, who remains in hospital after surgery was done on his intestines and liver which were punctured by bullets, reportedly whispered the name to his wife Grace who then reported it to the police.

Sources said the identified suspect, believed to be a gun-for-hire, could be hiding out in Lanao del Norte. He is said to be a bodyguard of a lawyer closely associated with a politician.

"It seems he (Pantoja) knows all the assailants," said Insp. Venancio Reuyan, chief of the Iligan police precinct 1, said in a phone interview. He said they are waiting for Pantoja to recover enough to sign an affidavit against the suspects.

Two names surfaced earlier after authorities leaked a cartographic sketch of three suspects, and a mugshot of one of them. Reuyan said Pantoja’s revelation would help the police investigating the case even as he hinted of a new angle. "We cannot name names yet. But we will not stop on our previous lead," he said.
He reiterated that investigators suspect that the attack is related to politics and a ranking government official is behind it.

He also said they transferred Pantoja to an undisclosed place to secure him since the threat against his life remains.

Pantoja, a hard-hitting political commentator and block-timer of radio station DxLS-Love Radio, was attacked near the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) as he was about to have a document photocopied.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Press Club links Radioman's shooting to drugs, illegal gambling

CAGAYAN de Oro City (Mike Baños / Oct 9) – A task force organized by the Cagayan de Oro Press Club to probe the shooting of a colleague believes it is linked to organized crime dealing in illegal drugs and gambling.


SURVIVOR. Pantoja shows the cartographic sketch of the gunman in a press conference held at the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC).

Three armed men aboard a motorcycle shot Jose C. Pantoja , a radio blocktimer in Iligan City early Monday morning near the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) as he was having some documents photocopied.

Mr. Pantoja is the host of the radio program " Isumbong mo kay Joe Pantoja" aired daily over dxLS Love Radio. He was shot three times with a .45 –caliber pistol and sustained gunshot wounds in the intestines and liver.

"Police sources have told COPC's Task Force Pantoja that the surveillance camera used to monitor traffic in the area was turned off at the time of the shooting, but only for this particular area ," said former COPC president Herbie Gomez.

"We have reason to believe a powerful politician may have given the sanction against Joe Pantoja. The Iligan city hall must find out and tell us why the cam was not functioning at that time."

Contrary to earlier reports, there were three, and not two assailants and they did not wear bonnets. At least ten people witnessed the shooting.

The Iligan City Police Office under Police Sr. Supt. Virgilio Ranes has come up with artists sketches of the three suspects based on witnesses accounts. One of the suspects has been identified as Romeo Ragasajo y Maglasang of Zone Pisces II, Suaraez, Iligan City. However, all three eluded arrest and remain at large as of presstime.

Mr. Pantoja ran for city councilor in the last elections but did not make it. He openly supported a politician from a nearby province who was opposed by another political figure who has been rumored to be linked to illegal drugs and gambling in Iligan and Lanao.

Although Mr. Pantoja reportedly gained consciousness Tuesday morning, he remains under heavy police guard in the Intensive Care Unit of the Mindanao Sanitarium and Hospital following a direct request of COPC President Jerry Orcullo to Police Regional Office 10 Regional Director Chief Supt. Teodorico Capuyan.


From San Francisco, California , former COPC President Ben Emata expressed his sadness at the shooting of his colleague in the press club.

"We must not leave a single stone unturned for the arrest of the suspects. Joe was a member of good standing of the Cagayan de Oro media and I know him very well. He was so young when he joined the media. I used to give him tips on how to write and report news items as well as the ethics of journalism. He was a friend and an asset to the COPC. I hope he will survive in his predicament and tell his story about the crime. This is the first to happen to our member. Please let us unite always and fight the enemies of press freedom."


In a press conference called by Task Force Pantoja at the COPC office Tuesday morning, former COPC President said the Pantoja shooting marked the first time in fifty six years that a journalist has been directly attacked in Region 10.

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CAGAYAN de Oro Journal (Ben Balce / Oct. 9) - A hardhitting political commentator Jose Cagalawan Pantoja was shot three times in the stomach by a still unidentified, motorcycle-riding gunman along the national highway fronting Mindanao State University (MSU-IIT) in Tibanga, Iligan City, police officials said Monday.


Pantoja, 38, was taken to the Mindanao Sanitarium Hospital in Iligan City. He remains in serious condition.


Pantoja is known as an anti-administration commentator. He works at Love Radio, an FM station in Iligan City.


Iligan City police chief Senior Supt Virgilio Ranes said Pantoja was shot on his way home at around 7 a.m. after taking his 10-year-old son to his school.


He said investigators are still looking for the real motive of the shooting but also said, "I think it's all about politics here in Iligan. Almost everyday 'yan (politics) ang topic niya sa kanyang radio program at diyan siya nakilala."


Ranes said Pantoja visited him in his office last April asking for poli
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Monday, October 08, 2007

Pacman hammers Barrera into retirement


LAS VEGAS, Nev — Manny Pacquiao scored a unanimous decision over Marco Antonio Barrera in their super featherweight clash Saturday, sending the Mexican icon into retirement.
Two judges scored it 118-109 for Pacquiao who retained his WBC international super featherweight crown.
The third judge had it 115-112.
It was Pacquiao’s second victory over Barrera after an 11th round technical knockout in November 2003.
President Arroyo led Filipinos in lauding Pacquiao saying the people’s champ is the Philippines’ gift to the world of boxing.
"Filipino boxing great Manny Pacquiao once again buoyed the nation’s spirit with his excellent fighting form and indomitable spirit. We join all Filipinos in celebrating his well-deserved victory," she said.
"It was a good fight," said Pacquiao.
"It was different from our first fight. He is a good, smart boxer. I knew he’d have to box me, and that’s what he did."
Although the bout was widely expected to be explosive, it was frequently tactical, with Barrera working behind a steady jab and circling to his left to stay away from Pacquiao’s powerful southpaw left hand.
However, after a relatively cautious opening four rounds, the fight came to life in the fifth.
Barrera, a former three-time world champion, landed an uppercut.
Pacquiao responded with a left and the two exchanged furious combinations against the ropes.
The sixth round saw more toe-to-toe action but in the succeeding rounds Pacquiao asserted control, moving to his right to cut Barrera off and unloading flurries of punches before the Mexican could counter.
In the 11th, a solid left from Pacquiao drove Barrera to the ropes but he fought back with a flurry before being hurt again with another right-left combination.
As referee Tony Weeks moved in to separate them from a clinch, Barrera threw a punch on the break, causing Weeks to halt the action and deduct a point.
"He has such a strong defense, it was difficult to break through," Barrera said after the fight.
"I’m sad because I lost the fight, and he didn’t land many punches. He didn’t hurt me. I thought I controlled the fight with my left hand." – Reuters/ Malaya

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

NGOs present result of studies in a forum on Mindanao issues

CAGAYAN de Oro Journal (Ryan Rosauro / Sept 26) - Leaders of 10 non-government organizations and representatives of government agencies gather on Friday to discuss major policy issues that are "significantly affecting peace and development endeavors" in communities across Mindanao.

The policy issues were identified in a series of studies undertaken by the 10 NGOs grouped as the Mindanao ICCO Partners. ICCO or the Inter-Church Development Organization is a Dutch international development institution.

According to Mary Luz Feranil, executive director of the Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao (AFRIM) and convenor of the Mindanao ICCO Partners, the identified policy issues fall under the broad areas of land rights, governance, and models and strategies for grassroots economic development.

The studies analyzed the policies that have bearing on each of the broad areas, examined how these were able to enhance and/or hinder efforts towards peace and development in specific communities.

Feranil emphasized that "sustainable community development is the bedrock of lasting peace in Mindanao, and even throughout the country."

That is why the findings of the studies are very helpful in rethinking existing policies with the view of enhancing the environment for community development in Mindanao, she added.

Feranil pointed to the need for harnessing unities among various peace and development stakeholders to push for specific policy reforms and develop broader people's participation in policy processes.

Highly relevant in the ongoing public discussions are the reviews on the implementation of the 10-year old Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) and on undertaking agrarian reform in commercial plantations in southern Mindanao, Feranil said.

IPRA has been under intense public scrutiny lately amid intensifying demands from indigenous communities for concrete results of the law's relevance to their development struggle. The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), too, has been the subject of continuing debate especially on the question of its fate beyond 2008 with the expiry of its enabling law.

The study on land rights examines the varied issues arising from conflicts over ownership, possession and control of land as experienced by varying socio-cultural groupings of peoples. It was subdivided into the specific experiences of indigenous peoples, Bangsamoro, and settler communities as each have distinct policy environments.

The study on governance delved into the situations of select communities in Davao del Sur, Bukidnon, Agusan del Norte and Lanao del Sur provinces. It tried to examine the challenges posed by the distinctive socio-cultural contexts of indigenous peoples, Moro and settler communities in carrying out local political administration.

The study on economic models and strategies looked at grassroots initiatives for development in southern Mindanao and presents the limitations imposed by existing policies that effectively serve as obstacles to the undertaking.

Representatives from government agencies are expected to give their responses and comments on the specific policy papers that will be presented during the forum.

Among those slated to attend are executives from the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process, Mindanao Economic Development Council, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, National Economic and Development Authority, Departments of Agrarian Reform, Environment and Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Trade and Industry. Several personalities from the academic community were also invited to attend.

The policy forum will be held on September 28 at the Grand Menseng Hotel, Davao City, and runs from 9am to 1pm.

The Mindanao ICCO Partners include Alterdev Services Foundation Inc., Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao, BALAOD Mindanaw, Kalimudan Foundation Inc., Kasanyangan Foundation Inc., Mindanao Farmers Development Center, Philippine Network of Rural Development Institutes, Tri-People Concern for Peace, Progress and Development, Unlad Kabayan Migrant Services Foundation Inc., and Centro Saka Inc.


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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Alipala of anonymous: "Whatever label they put, I don't care!"

(hi ben, comrade na talaga tayo. Oo! Inaamin ko... AKO AY LEFTIST! LEFTIST TALAGA AKO AT ALAM NG MILITAR AT NANG ATING MGA KAPATID NA MUSLIM YAN KASI PAG KUMAKAIN AKO, LEFT ANG GINAGAMIT KONG KAMAY. Alangan namang gamitin ko yung RIGHT HAND KO, di ba medyo...)

Alipala: "Whatever label they put, I don't care!"

Maganda ngang pakinggan leftist kesa envelopmentalist o di kaya bayarang publicist. Whatever label they put, I dont care! They know that i can never be bought, me mga leftist dyan nababayaran naman.

Dapat sana nandun na ako sa hanay ng mga left oriented organizations para at least kahit papaano may protection ako. The point here is that I know my rights and I know what is right or wrong during that fateful July 10 and August 18 incidents and that's the reasons these "so called anti-terrorists organizations" like AFP wanted to silence me. Duwag sila (AFP) because they cannot find any weakness in me other than labeling me as leftist and harassing me using my four year old innocent son.

Kung talagang nagkamali ako sa mga nirereport ko, there's so many halls of justice in the country where they can file a case against me.

Hiding as anonymous then label me with names or tags indicates that I still have balls kahit babae ako. Julie

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NATIONAL UNION OF JOURNALISTS OF THE PHILIPPINES

Subject: NUJP statement on Julie Alipala and Jarius Bondoc
(Statement September 22, 2007)


The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines is alarmed over reports that no less than the chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines has prevented a reporter from covering legitimate news events in Mindanao, particularly in the province of Basilan.

The banning of Julie Alipala, a reporter of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, from covering ongoing military operations in Basilan is a violation of press freedom and the people's right to know as enshrined in the Philippine Constitution.

She has also repeatedly received threats because of her reports on military operations in Basilan and Sulu that exposed lapses and abuses on the part of the AFP.

The NUJP looks at the military's action against a legitimate media practitioner as pure harassment and an indication of the military's penchant for human rights violations.

The NUJP is also deeply concerned for her safety. What makes this even more alarming are reports that another journalist has received death threats for exposing corruption in the government.

Philippine Star's Jarius Bondoc sought assistance after receiving death threats allegedly due to his expos� on the controversial $330-million contract for the government's national broadband network project with China's ZTE Corp.

Bondoc has been receiving text (SMS) messages warning him that he could be shot or his office bombed anytime for his exposes.

The NUJP calls on the authorities to look into these incidents even as we urge the military to stop harassing media practitioners, especially in the provinces.

References:Joe Torres Jr., NUJP chairpersonRowena Paraan, NUJP secretary-general.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bayan leads noise barrage; calls to junk HSA

(A Press Release sent to CDO Journal by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan on September 21, 2007)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY - BAGONG Alyansang Makabayan-Northern Mindanao Region spearheaded a simultaneous noise barrage to drumbeat their call to junk the Human Security Act of 2007 around 6pm yesterday (Sept. 21) in Capistran-Abejuela Sts., Divisoria and in Licoan this city.

“As we commemorate the dark martial law period, we not only remember the victims of human rights violations during the Marcos dictatorship but we also continue to condemn the existing dictator in Malacañang who already claimed the lives of 863 members of progressive organizations, human rights advocates, mediamen and churchpeople and the more the 200 victims of enforced disappearance”, Kristin Lim, Deputy Secretary-General of BAYAN-NMR said.

Lim also claims that since Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was installed as president through the People Power I in 2001 and until her reign as fake president up to the present, there were already 5 victims of extrajudicial killings in the region, the latest being Dalmacio “Daki” Gandinao and Siche Gandinao both from the highly militarized Salay, Misamis Oriental and members of Bayan Muna.

“It is frustrating to note that not one of the agents of the AFP who were pointed as perpetrators of the said vicious killings in the region was arrested and trialed. The military and police were quick enough to wash their hands of their crimes and even quicker enough to blame the NPA. The lack of will and the insincerity of the state to stop the intensifying human rights violations shows that the armed agents of the state can brazenly attack us with impunity,” Lim further added.

Moreover, the group believes that these incidents will further bolster with the implementation of the Human Security Act of 2006.

“In the pretext of going after terrorists, the state, through the Human Security Act of 2007, can go after groups who continue to pursue Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s ouster. However, there is no other way for a dictator to go but down”, Lim finally stated.


Reference:
Kristin Lim
BAYAN NMR Deputy Secretary General
Address: # 266 Pinikitan, Brgy. Camaman-an, Cagayan de Oro City Contact # 09216771894 email:
ram_oxbow@yahoo.com

Sunday, September 16, 2007

No let up in defense after Joma release


CAGAYAN DE ORO Journal (Ben Balce / Sept 16) – The military here yesterday (Saturday) said there would be no letup in the government’s security efforts in the wake of the release of communist leader Jose Ma. Sison in The Netherlands.

The army’s 4th Infantry Division said it would intensify its proactive defense and would continue securing vital installations in this part of the country.

“Even if he (Sison) is now free, still there will be no letup in our operations against his men in the region,” said 4th ID spokesperson Maj. Samuel Sagun.

Sison was released from jail after a Dutch court found insufficient evidence to hold him on murder charges he gave out orders to kill two other communist leaders in the country.

Sagun said the Armed Forces, including the Joint Task Force Kilat here, would pursue internal operations against the New People’s Army (NPA). 4thID commander Maj. Gen. Jose Barbieto heads the task Force.

Sagun downplayed reports that Sison’s release would adversely affect the military campaign against communist rebels.

Rebels are reportedly contemplating on launching attacks to cripple vital installations, particularly in the Agusan provinces.

But Sagun said the 4th ID has no information that the NPA was planning on undertaking a major operation in Regions 10 and 13.

“But our troops continue to be ready,’ said Sagun.

Neither is Sison’s release a threat to Northern Mindanao or Caraga’s peace and order situation, he said.

“Whether he is in jail or not, our regions will continue living peacefully,” said Sagun.

Sagun also said the National Police in Northern Mindanao headed by regional director Chief Supt. Teodorico Capuyan has greatly contributed in the campaign against the communist insurgency here. The 4th ID and Camp Alagar have recently signed a memorandum of agreement in connection with the anti-communist insurgency campaign.

“The joint AFP-PNP campaign against insurgency started early last month. We have scored so much not only in terms of combat operations but even on civil-military operations,” said Sagun.
Sagun said soldiers her were optimistic about President’s Arroyo’s objective to rid the country of communist insurgency by 2010.


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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Conflict-Sensitive Reporting aims to rethink journalist's role

BACOLOD, Negros Occidental (Mike Baños / Sep 13) - The Peace and Conflict Journalism Network (PECOJON) recently completed its first ever trainer's training in a bid to multiply its advocacy to revisit the journalist's role especially in the reportage of conflict stories.

PECOJON International Coordinator Antonia Koop lectures PECOJON trainers during the first PECOJON trainor's training held in Bacolod City recently.

"PECOJON is the only network of journalists worldwide that links theory and practice in conflict-sensitive journalism as defined by German journalist Nadine Bielke, based on peace journalism tools and techniques developed by British journalists Jake Lynch and Annabel McGoldrick, who in turn started their ground breaking work from the works of peace scholar Johann Galtung" said Antonia Koop, international coordinator for PECOJON based in this city.

"We are an international network of journalists who work in, with, and about conflict," said Jeanette C. Patindol, national coordinator. "The members are print, radio and broadcast journalists, journalism teachers and students as well as writers and filmmakers who have committed themselves to solidarity and networking for a constructive conflict reporting."

"The network is a platform for investigation and practical support but also acts as a base for common projects, trainings and discussion," said Ledrolen Manriquez, chief of operations of the PECOJON national secretariat, who together with Ms. Koop and Ms. Patindol, co-founded PECOJON in 2004.

Ms. Koop clarifies that conflict-sensitive journalism is not peace advocacy but rather seeks to create space for peaceful resolution, instead of escalation, as many news stories are now researched, written and presented.

"This new reporting paradigm seeks to re-establish the journalist's role in reporting conflict by using peace journalism tools and techniques such as conflict analysis, to help the stakeholders involved in a conflict to understand its nature, who are involved in it, and the information they need to resolve it themselves," Ms. Koop said.

The "round-table" approach to reportage gives voice to the goals of the various stakeholders involved in a conflict, thereby opening up space for creative solutions to the conflict, she added.
"I got years of extensive experience in the profession but learning has always been a continuing process for me. I have dedicated my career on achieving excellence in journalism," said Dennis Jay Santos, Davao correspondent of a national broadsheet, following the first trainer's training.


"PECOJON gives me a fresh understanding on how journalism takes an important role in the modern world and insights on how to best meet the challenges that confronts us as journalists."
PECOJON started as a Philippine-German partnership and now has some 350 members in Australia, Austria, Germany, Ghana, Indonesia, Japan, Kosovo, Nigeria, Somalia, Thailand, Togo, United Kingdom, United States and the Philippines.

Currently better known as a training institution, PECOJON has been running a series of trainings on conflict-sensitive reporting with assistance from the International Institute for Journalism (IIJ) of InWent, Berlin. However, Ms. Koop feels its time for members to take their learnings to the next step and use it in their profession.

"Our network is member-driven," she said. "Everything comes from the members, everything is for the members. Transforming the world, all ideas come from members. How the world covers conflict is how members want it."

At present, PECOJON has six chapters in the Philippines : Manila, Luzon, Visayas, Western Mindanao, Northern Mindanao and Davao.

"We have no "top-down" culture," said Ms. Patindol. "We are on track with our own vision which is "member-driven." Members present ideas on how they can grow better, we just support."
For now, all chapter coordinators all volunteers, but in the future each chapter is envisioned to nominate three coordinator candidates with the National Secretariat making the final choice.

"The National Secretariat's criteria on who is best suited to coordinate the chapter would depend on its current development and needs," said Ms. Manriquez. "We need coordinators who have the ability, time and most important, commitment to lead their chapters."

German journalist Antonia Koop tours visiting journalists at the PECONON Headquarters in Bacolod City.

The National Secretariat is composed of all chapter coordinators and acts as the body that would shape the network, and choose a national coordinator from among themselves. It will be the center of the national network and its main channel of communications, Ms. Patindol said.

"The international coordinating committee consists of a representative each from each national network and we envision this to be organized in five to seven years," Ms. Koop said.

Like in the Philippines, all international chapters will be manned by volunteers with each country given the leeway to choose its own legal personality, given the peculiarities inherent of the law in each country.

As of now, PECOJON will focus on its trainings and coming out with the PECOJON Handbook before the end of the year, Ms. Patindol said.

From the Philippines, PECOJON will eventually conduct its trainings in East Timor and Indonesia by 2008; adding one training each for Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Cambodia by 2009 and two trainings in these same countries by 2010.

In the long run, PECOJON visualizes itself as one international network with which journalists can work together. Other projects online include media consultancy to invite media leaders to ask their opinion on how they can improve journalism and exchange programs to strengthen international ties starting with Togo, West Africa.

Eventually, the network aims to establish a PECOJON Palm Academy which aims to close the gap between theoretical background and practical application of conflict-sensitive journalism based on a training needs analysis which shall identify the gap between academe and PECOJON members in the field.

"The idea is to run a complete program for conflict-sensitive journalism perspective on quality management on air TV, radio stations from a united newsroom," Ms. Koop said. "The core idea is to have resources shared by all media organizations and grow the young ones together for better reporting."

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Life sentence for Erap

P876M deposits, house forfeited

CAGAYAN de Oro Journal (Peter Tabingo / Sept 13) FORMER President Joseph Estrada was convicted yesterday of the crime of plunder and sentenced to life imprisonment, with a maximum of 40 years.

But the Sandiganbayan Special Division acquitted him of the crime of perjury for lack of evidence.

Estrada’s co-accused in the plunder case, Sen. Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada and lawyer Edward Serapio, were acquitted for insufficient evidence.

The Special Division decided to allow Estrada to be detained at his Tanay rest house pending his appeal owing to his stature as former president.

Estrada’s lawyers will file a motion for reconsideration.

The Sandiganbayan ordered the forfeiture of his documented bank accounts and a house and lot dubbed as "Boracay Mansion" in New Manila, Quezon City, which the graft court held was purchased by Estrada using P142 million from jueteng payola.

The bank deposits included the P200 million in the bank account of the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation and the P189 million Estrada was supposed to have received as commission from the purchase of Belle Corporation Shares by the Social Security System and the Government Service Insurance System.

All in all, he stands to give up P876.29 million.

Estrada was barred from holding public office either by election or appointment.

The court session which was broadcast live started at 9:20 a.m. and adjourned 15 minutes later as defense lead counsel Jose Flaminiano manifested the wish of Estrada that only the dispositive portions of the decision on the plunder and perjury cases be read.

Estrada arrived at around 8:40 a.m. and was brought to the holding room at the sixth floor.

He was led to the courtroom at 9:13 a.m., accompanied by former Sen. Luisa "Loi" Estrada, and his sons, Jinggoy, San Juan Mayor Jose Victor Ejercito, Jude Estrada and daughter Jackie Ejercito-Lopez.

Also in the courtroom were former Chief Justice Andres Narvasa, Sen. Loren Legarda, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, Malabon Mayor Toby Tiangco, Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn, former Estrada spokesman and Shariff Kabunsuan Rep. Didagen Dilangalen, Cavite Rep. Crispin Remulla, and Estrada spokesman Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.

Ma. Teresa Pabulayan, special division clerk of court, read the perjury ruling first and although Estrada was acquitted, there was no cheering or hardly any sound from either side as both waited for the court’s pronouncement in the main case of plunder.

TEARS AND DISAPPOINTMENTS

When Pabulayan announced that Estrada was guilty in the plunder charge, the former president shook his head twice while Jackie broke down in tears.

Later, JV and Jude Estrada also cried. Estrada made his way out of the courtroom barely controlling his tears.

The former president himself had red-rimmed eyes as he made his way out of the courtroom.
But he consented to requests from reporters for his reaction.

"It (conviction) was to be expected. I subjected myself to the rule of law against the advice of my close friends. This was a special division created to convict me," Estrada said.

Rene Saguisag, co-lead counsel for Estrada, told the court that the former president would rather be jailed in the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City.

"President Estrada has absolutely no intention of seeking special treatment, Your Honors. Far be it from him to seek special privileges. This may be confirmed by the convict himself," Saguisag said.

Flaminiano said they had expected the guilty verdict noting: "History has it that special courts were made to convict an accused."

Saguisag and Flaminiano said that Estrada secretly nurtured a hope he would be exonerated.

"In his heart of hearts, he believed that it was a case of ‘guilt not proven,’" Saguisag said.

THE VERDICT

Prosecutors secured Estrada’s conviction in two of the four predicate crimes that formed Estrada’s indictment for plunder.

The graft court held that evidence of Estrada’s involvement in illegal gambling protection as well as his application of pressure on the GSIS and SSS to buy P1.88 billion worth of Belle Corp shares were each sufficient to convict him for plunder.

"(The) repeated collections of jueteng money from November 1998 to August 2000 would fall within the purview of a "series" of illegal acts constituting plunder," the court declared.

"It is unnecessary to indulge in an exposition of whether the two series of acts… proven in the course of the trial could have amounted to two counts of plunder. It would be a purely academic exercise, as the accused cannot be convicted of two offenses or two counts of plunder on the basis of a single Information," it added.

The court said the prosecution failed to connect the alleged illegal diversion of P130 million tobacco excise tax funds to Estrada since none among the alleged "couriers" were even connected to Estrada.

"Not a scintilla of evidence links former President Estrada to any of the obscure personalities who withdrew the P130 million namely, Delia Rajas, Alma Alfaro, and Eleuterio Tan and to any of the official bank documents that made possible the diversion and misappropriation of the aforesaid public funds," the court noted.

"In sum, the paper trail in relation to the P130 million diverted tobacco excise taxes began with Gov. Singson and ended with Atong Ang. This Court does not find the evidence sufficient to establish beyond reasonable doubt that President Estrada or any member of his family had instigated and/or benefited," it stressed.

What drove the court to convict Estrada in relation to illegal gambling protection were the testimonies of various bank officials and the paper trail of the gambling money including the P200 million that eventually found its way to the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation.

"The slew of bank documents, involving mind-boggling amounts of money and authenticated by competent and credible bank officers, convinces the Court that collection of jueteng money for former President Estrada indeed took place and the entries in the ledger were not manufactured by Gov. Chavit Singson," the court said.

JV’S CHECKS HELPED CONVICT ERAP

Ironically, the court found that seven checks containing P182.76 million traced from the Urban Bank account of JV Ejercito were strong proof that Estrada was the owner of the "Jose Velarde" account.

"The evidence of the Prosecution which showed that three Urban Bank Manager’s checks for the amounts of P10.88 million, P42.72 million and P54.16 million received by JV Ejercito as well as the four Urban Bank Manager’s Checks totaling P75 million were deposited to EPCIB S/A No. 0160-62501-5 of Jose Velarde constitutes corroborative evidence that, as between Estrada and (Jaime) Dichaves, it can be inferred that JV Ejercito, being the son of Estrada, would contribute to the account of his father but not if the account were owned by Dichaves," the court said.

Prosecutors claimed the Velarde account at one time contained P3.2 billion but the deposits were drained shortly after Estrada’s ouster in January 2001, before the court could issue a freeze order on his assets.

The Sandiganbayan held that Estrada’s admission that he signed bank instruments as "Jose Velarde" in front of prosecution witnesses Clarissa Ocampo and Manuel Curato, former officials of Equitable-PCI Bank, was additional evidence that he and Velarde were the same person.

"Being a judicial admission, no proof is required and may be given in evidence against him. Being an admission against interest, it is the best evidence which affords the greatest certainty of the facts in dispute. The rationale for the rule is based on the presumption that no man would declare anything against himself unless such declaration was true," the court said.

Another crucial evidence against Estrada was his office trustee, Baby Ortaliza, who was identified by bank officials testifying for the prosecution as the one who transacted various businesses relative to the Velarde account and the other accounts of the Estrada couple.

"The evidence of the Prosecution which showed that Baby Ortaliza - a trusted person of former President Estrada and who enjoyed (his and Loi Ejercito’s) confidence - transacted the various personal bank accounts of (the Estrada couple) as well as the Jose Velarde accounts, also constitutes corroborative evidence that the Jose Velarde Accounts are owned by former President Estrada and not by Dichaves," the court ruled.

Documents on the purchase of the Boracay mansion showing that the funds came from the Velarde account clinched the prosecution’s case against Estrada.

"The evidence of the Prosecution that the Boracay Mansion was purchased from funds coming from the Jose Velarde accounts is another corroborative evidence that the Jose Velarde accounts are owned by former President Estrada. The documents found in the Boracay Mansion show that the beneficial owner is former President Estrada and is used by Laarni Enriquez whose relation to former President Estrada was never denied," the court held.

On accusations that Estrada profited from the GSIS and SSS purchases of Belle Corporation shares, the court said that "Estrada took advantage of his official position, authority, relationship, connection and influence to unjustly enrich himself at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines."

Although the defense claimed that Estrada merely made suggestions to former SSS chairman Carlos Arellano and former GSIS president Federico Pascual over the Belle purchases, the court held that, coming from an appointing power, the calls had coercive effect particularly when repeatedly made.

Malaya

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