Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Thursday, January 31, 2008

3 killed, 28 hurt over explosion at Filbest Gensan

At least three people were killed and 28 wounded at an explosion that occured infront of FILBEST, a fish canning factory located at General Santos City.

Sketchy report recieved says that the casue of the explosion has not yet been known as of this report. Police authorities are making follow-up investigation to determine the real cause of the blast and pinpoint the perpetrators.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Kid City gave in to Al Khobar extortionist group

The city government of Kidapawan gave a total of P100,000 to the Al Khobar extortionist group as protection money so that it can be spared from terror attacks from said group.

The first tranch of P50,000 was given on November 26, 2007 and the second with the same amount was given on January 10, 2008.

Mayor Gantuanco of this City, however, clarified that the money deposited to the bank account of a certain Nasser Abison, alleged leader of the group, was made as an entrapment designed to serve as one of the evidence that will hopefully pin down the Al Khobar.

Immediately after the last tranch was given, the authorities filed cases of extortion, terrorism, multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder against the said group.

Mayor Gantuanco confirmed that the Al Khobar extortionist and terror group is for real and has well-established international connections. It was learned later that the account used was a foreign remittance account.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

MILF Peace Panel grace peace forum

COTABATO CITY. Two members of the MILF Peace Panel and two members of its Technical Committee were invited to a peace forum in Cotabato City today to give updates of the GRP-MILF Peace Talks that is on the “verge of total collapse” as a result of the government decision to abandon the consensus points on ancestral domain that were jointly “crafted, agreed, and signed”. For more than three years they opened up talk on the subject.

Mohagher Iqbal, chairperson of the MILF Peace Panel, was the main speaker, and he was ably assisted by Atty. Datu Michael Mastura, who also inputted important materials related to the 10-year old talks.

Fire gutted public market in SK Pendatun town

A fire razed to the ground the public market of SK Pendatun town in Maguindanao, ARMM. The fire damaged some 87 business establishments and residential houses in more than 1 hour of blaze that was left unhampered due to the absence of firetruck.

Nobody, however, was reported hurt in the incident.

13 killed in vehicular accident in North Cotabato

CARMEN, Philippines -- (UPDATE 3) Thirteen people were killed and several more injured Tuesday morning when a passenger jeepney when a passenger jeepney, packed with well-wishers for pilgrims returning from the Hajj, collided with a 10-wheeler truck in Carmen, North Cotabato, police said.

Inspector Reynante Gabico, Carmen police chief, said the jeepney, which was heading for Parang, Maguindanao, overtook a hauler truck while negotiating a sharp curve in Barangay General Luna around 10 a.m.

The jeepney driver apparently lost control of his vehicle, which slammed into the oncoming 10-wheeler truck.

Senior Superintendent Lester Camba, the provincial police director, identified some of the fatalities as driver Allan Baluno, Mokamad Saidula, Lugaya Matalam, and Kutog Amil Sapal.

Mary Arvado, Carmen social welfare chief, identified some of the victims as Bai Naot Butuan, Dima Saidula, Mokamad Saidula, Lugaya Matalam, Obayda Balabagan, Mustapha Asim and Tong Ombadel.

She said two of the dead were children aged two to eight who remain unidentified as of this posting. "There were 13 dead lying here by the roadside, including the [bus] driver," Gabico said on local radio. Gabico said they had difficulty retrieving the body of Baluno, because he was pinned to the driver's seat.

He said injured passengers, some in critical condition, were rushed to various hospitals.
The truck driver was unhurt and later surrendered to the police.

Filipino-Chinese businesswoman abducted in Sulu

JOLO, Sulu -- Six unidentified armed men kidnapped a Filipino-Chinese businesswoman here late Monday afternoon and police attempts to immediately rescue the victim failed.

Senior Superintendent Julasirim Kasim, Sulu police director, said Rosalie Lao, 58, was on her way home from her store when abducted near Kakugayan village.Kasim said the Jolo police, who were immediately alerted to the incident, police officers to track down the victim and her abductors.Senior Inspector Usman Pingay, Jolo police chief, said they chased a yellow Toyota Tamaraw the kidnappers used but lost track of it near Barangay (village) Danag in Patikul town.Pingay said the kidnappers have not contacted Lao’s family yet.Lao owns a store at the Barter Trade Center here.

Priest killers seek P1M for release of teacher

Killers of Oblate priest Reynaldo Roda have demanded P1 million in exchange for the release of a teacher they abducted during the incident, the police director of Tawi-Tawi province said.

Provincial police director Superintendent Wainwright Taup said the Abu Sayyaf sent him a ransom note for the release of his relative Omar Taup.The teacher was seized by the gunmen as they fled after killing Roda on January 15."The victim, a distant relative, personally wrote the letter and signed [it] begging me to produce the ransom. But we will not pay up," Taup said.

Police accuse MILF fighters of kidnapping three persons

Cotabato City, police accused Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters of kidnapping three persons in Mamasapano, Shariff Aguak province on January 24.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Danilo Bacas, spokesperson of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) police, identified the men seized by the MILF as Christopher Lamigo, 29, Jeffrey Becera, 31 and Mark Badia, 28, all residents of Cotabato City.

The victims, he said, were selling frozen foods when taken by rebels in Barangay (village) Tukanalipao around 9 a.m.

But Eid Kabalu, MILF civil-military affairs chief, said the three vendors were "just invited" for questioning after fighters in the area suspected that they were military agents.
He said the vendors were eventually released after the MILF found no cause for holding them.
"They were unharmed and no ransom was asked before they were turned over to the IMT [International Monitoring Team]," Kabalu said.

Family of Disappeared person files Writ of Amparo vs. Military

Zamboanga City. The family of engineer Morcid Taguitis, who disappeared in Jolo, Sulu on October 30, has filed a writ of amparo against the military and police.
Taguitis, who works for a project funded by the Islamic Development Bank of Jeddah, was earlier thought to have been abducted by Abu Sayyaf gunmen.

A few weeks after his disappearance, however, Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan claimed Taguitis appeared to have staged his own kidnapping.

But Taguitis' family believes he is being held by authorities against his will, Senior Superintendent Julasirim Kasim, Sulu police director, said.
Kasim said Taguitis' wife, Jean, decided to file a writ of amparo in an effort to find her missing husband.

Chief Superintendent Joel Goltiao, ARMM police director, said they learned that the writ of amparo was filed before a Manila court late December.

"We were actually surprised with her actions. But the writ of amparo is actually a way to exert effort to produce missing persons and we are doing our best to locate her husband. We started our investigation with the [Criminal Investigation and Detection Group] because the wife claimed that CIDG 9 personnel were reportedly seen taking her husband," Goltiao said.

Goltiao said they will update the Taguitis family about the developments of the investigation.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sultan Kudarat town aims for nat’l recognition

SULTAN KUDARAT TOWN IN Shariff Kabunsuan is the only local government unit in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to have reached the finals of this year’s Gawad Galing Pook award.

Mayor Shajida Mastura-Bandila attributed the effort to the town’s program on transparency through its information and communications technology (ICT). Sultan Kudarat passed the regional and national level searches, screening and site validation visits conducted by the Gawad Galing Pook Foundation Inc.

The ICT system helped make transparent to the public the fiscal and program accountabilities of officials, as well as transactions in the municipal government. The Top Ten LGU Gawad Galing Pook recipients will be announced later this month.

Success story

Mastura-Bandila said she presented her town’s ICT success story in a recent panel forum and individual interview with the Board of Judges at the Ateneo de Manila University. She credited the Local Government Support Program in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (LGSPA) of the Canada International Development Agency for ICT development.

Since there was hardly a Muslim-run LGU making it to the national tilt, Marion Villanueva, LGSPA field program manager, said sectoral representatives in the Muslim region were also searching for an ARMM indigenous equivalent of the Gawad Galing Pook annual award—“one which could be acceptable to Moro tribal groups in the region.”

The ARMM is composed of the provinces of Basilan, Lanao Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan.

Besting 247 LGUs nationwide, Mastura-Bandila said her town, named after the 17th-century Muslim hero Sultan Muhammad Dipatuan Kudarat I, should be noted for its rich historical roots.
Filipino historian Ambeth Ocampo said he was saddened that local historians and officials decided to place Kudarat’s monument in Cotabato City to the left side of Dr. Jose Rizal’s, and “not made to stand on equal footing” and face-to-face with the city’s monument of the national hero.

‘King of Mindanao’

Ocampo had reason to criticize the decision in his speech during the 2005 monument unveiling ceremony: The Filipino national pride in Sultan Kudarat, known to 18th Century Spanish chroniclers, including Francisco Combes, as the “King of Mindanao,” who repelled 11 Spanish expeditions to Mindanao, Basilan and Ternate (now Indonesian territory) on Borneo Island.
Historians trace Rizal’s generation link with Kudarat through the national hero’s annotation of the Spanish book, “Socesos de las Islas Filipinas” (Events in the Philippine Islands) by Antonio de Morga.

Rizal defended Kudarat’s uncle Rajah Silongan who was accused of “treachery” in Morga’s book for the killing of Capitan Esteban Rodriguez de Figueroa, leader of the first Spanish Expedition to Mindanao in 1599.

The late Moro historian, Dr. Alunan Glang, said little was known of such “historical fact” and that by disputing Morga, Rizal first incurred the ire of Spanish authorities in his stint in Madrid.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Parang official's residence strapped

Cotabato City. The residence of Parang's former Vice Mayor, now Barangay Chairman of Poblacion, Parang, Shariff Kabunsuan was strapped with bullets this morning at about 5:00 a.m.

The official being referred to is Adnan Biruar and his residence located at Bagua 3, this City.

Prior to the strapping incident, a toyota hi-lux bearing plate number MBN 222 was seen in the vicinity, witnesses say. The same vehicle fled immediately after the incident happened.

No one was reported hurt.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sulu ID bears the Christian Cross, report says

The issuance of the identification cards to the people of Sulu is heating up again as more and more people are starting to question the real motives behind this controversial move of the military. One school teacher in Patikul, Sulu told Luwaran on condition of anonymity that he would rather die than wear the ID which bears the symbol of the Cross. The Cross is at the center of the ID near the star symbol but the former is larger.

BDA-JICA convene for a consultation workshop

Cotabato City--The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) spearheaded the conduct of a pre-stakeholders consultation workshop held at the Pacific Heights here in this city on January 11-12, 2007 together with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Study Team for the Socio-economic Reconstruction and Development of the Conflict Affected Areas in Mindanao (SERD-CAAM). The said activity aimed to meet the following objectives: 1) to present and validate the initial survey results/findings/assessment on the socio-economic conditions of the conflict affected areas in Mindanao (CAAM); 2) to validate the proposed and existing vision for the CAAM;3) to formulate the Socio-economic Development Plan Framework for the CAAM . The workshop is also intended for the BDA and the Study Team to identify the next steps for the stakeholders’ consultation.

Misuari to be exiled to Libya

Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Chairman Nur Misuari will be exiled to Libya, a report reaching Luwaran today. “This is an unfortunate development,” Mohagher Iqbal, MILF chief peace negotiator, said, when asked to comment on the snowballing decision of the Arroyo administration on Misuari.

Muslims and Christians Hold Protest Rally in Iligan City

ILIGAN CITY. In an impressive show of solidarity, more than 7,000 demonstrators, Muslim and Christian, held a protest march-rally in Iligan City today to express their grave concern over the aborted peace negotiation between the MILF and the GRP and their indignation at some officials of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s cabinet for their opposition to a negotiated peace settlement of the Mindanao conflict with the MILF. The demonstrators also lambasted US President George Bush for sending American combat troops for the Balikatan exercises which be held in Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Sulu, Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon and other parts of Northwestern and Northeastern Mindanao beginning February 18, 2008.

Sumilao farmers ready to meet with SMFI over land row

Farmers claiming a 144-hectare property in Bukidnon are willing to meet with officials of San Miguel Foods, Inc, which is developing the land into a hog farm, to discuss a win-win solution to the dispute, a spokeswoman said Thursday.

According to their lawyer, Arlene Bag-Ao, the farmers were encouraged to enter into the talks after Catholic bishops attending a seminar on rural poverty and agrarian reform in Manila early this week assured them that the churchmen will attend the talks as peasant negotiators.“The bishops said that the Church will not be acting as the mediator but the representative of the farmers during the negotiation,”

Among the bishops who gave the assurance were Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales and Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillio, who have been vocal supporters of the farmers, she added.Rosales, according to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, has been trying to set a meeting with SMFI. The Cardinal had earlier written President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo begging her to give the land back to the Sumilao farmers.Bag-Ao said the farmers recognized that a “win-win” solution to the case was better that waiting for years for the courts to decide on the case. She said the “win-win” solution must be acceptable to all parties. The original owners of the land, the family of businessman Norberto Quisumbing, have filed a suit with the Supreme Court, while SMFI has appealed President Arroyo’s ruling that the property in question be returned to the government’s land reform program.

The land had been awarded to farmers during the Ramos presidency but was taken back shortly afterwards when MalacaƱang, in a move upheld by the Supreme Court, reclassified the land at Quisumbing’s instance from agriculture to agro-industrial on a pledge by Quisumbing to build an agro-industrial complex on the property.

The plan never materialized, however, and the Quisumbings instead sold the property to SMFI, triggering the current dispute. Fifty-five of the 160 farmer-claimants endured a two-month, 1,700-kilometer march from Sumilao, Bukidnon, to Manila late last year to highlight their plight.
As the would-be beneficiaries of land reform, the farmers demanded that SMFI stop constructing the hog farm not only because the original conversion plan had no provision for such but also because the development of the property, as pledged by the previous, owners, was not completed within a five-year period specified under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

Twelve of the Sumilao farmers have returned to Manila to press for the resolution of the case following the non-implementation of a MalacaƱang December 18 order revoking the Ramos-approved conversion and returning the property back to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

Cotabato preacher’s alleged killers known; manhunt on

COTABATO CITY, Philippines -- The alleged killers of an Islamic preacher have been identified and a manhunt has been launched against them, a police official said.

Senior Superintendent Willie Dangane, Cotabato police chief, declined to reveal the identities of the suspects in the slaying of Abduljabar Bagundang, 19, who was mistaken for his father, supposedly the real target of the killers.

"He was a look alike of his father," Dangane said.
Bagundang had just emerged from their home on Esteros, Barangay (village) Tamontaka Mother, when he was shot dead by gunmen last Wednesday night.

Three men on board a motorcycle arrived at the scene about 8:30 p.m. and upon seeing Bagundang opened fire, hitting the victim in different parts of the body, Dangane said.
Dangane said a grudge could have been the reason for the murder but declined to give details.
Bagundang was the sixth person to be killed in Cotabato City since January 1.

Convicted Priest killer - free at last

Mr. Norberto Manero, Jr. will be freed today from 24 years of imprisonment after he qualified for commutation of his sentence. This was disclosed by the Department of Justice yesterday.

Manero, leader of a vigilante group, was convicted in 1983 for the slaying of Fr. Tulio Favali, an Italian national, assigned in Tulunan, North Cotabato.

Recruitment by MNLF breakaway group questioned

A breakaway group of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) has been actively recruiting members, mostly from the cultural communities (Lumads). This was disclosed by Datu Dima Ambil, chair of the Sebangan Kutawato State Revolutionary Command of the mainstream MNLF based in Matalam, North Cotbato.

Accordingly, Mr. Johnny Sugaguil and Kautin Usman were making promises of direct commissionship into the Regional Security Force (RSF), a unit that will still have to be organized. The RSF is one of the provisions of the GRP-MNLF Accord of 1996 that has not been implemented yet.

Ambil further disclosed that a fee ranging from P250 to P1,000 is allegedly collected from the new recruits. He warned that this may backfire if such promises were later found out to be a farce.

IED downs Transco tower in Lanao Norte

An improvised explosive device (IED) severely damaged one of the trasmission towers (Tower No. 15) of the National Transmission Corporation (Transco) in sitio Lamak, Tagoloan, Lanao del Norte. This was believed to be the handiwork of extortionists who have been into this kind of modus operandi to pressure government to give in to their demands. This happened at past 1:00 in the morning on January 20.

Police authorities in Lanao Norte are pursuing the suspected extortionist group.

Suspected Priest killer nabbed

A certain Salvador Akili, aka 'seven colors', was arrested by Tawi-Tawi Police authorities after he was pinpointed by informants as one of the killers of Fr. Rey Roda. Fr. Roda was killed by his abductors last January 15 after he refused to go with the group suspected to be members of the dreaded Abu Sayyaf terrorist and kidnap-for-ransom group.

The authorities are hopeful that the arrest of Akili is a breakthrough as this may lead to the arrest of his companions.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Cops - no less - in drug deal

Cotabato City; January 23, 2008

Two members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were arrested following a dragnet staged by the Cotabato Provincial Police Office. Arrested were PO2 Avena and PO2 Gapus, all members of the Kabacan Police Station. The two policemen were arrested after the marked money were found in their possession.

Rallyists Condemn Slaying of Fr. Roda

Cotabato City - Jan. 22, 2008

Thousands of students from Notre Dame University staged a rally to condemn the barbaric slaying of Fr. Rey Roda in Tawi-Tawi last January 15. The rally was spearheaded by the Bangsamoro Center for Justice and Peace. Muslims and Christians joined hands and were one in condemning this barbaric act which was suspected to be another handiwork of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.

After the rally, the participants proceeded to the Immacultate Conception Cathedral to view the body of the slain priest.

Fr. Roda shall be laid to rest on Jan. 23 at the OMI Cemetery in Tamontaka Grotto Shrine, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Shariff Kabunsuan.