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)

Six white slavery suspects nabbed, 7 girls saved


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.


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.

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

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