Zamboanga City, Philippines
Jan. 7-13, 2013
We wish all our valued readers, advertisers and supporters and friends only the best of the New Year and we take this opportunity to thank you all as we embark again on another year to bring you the best of us. And to all those who made us what we are now, our bureau chiefs, correspondents and contributors, staffs and employees, and to all who believe in us maraming, maraming salamat po sa inyong patuloy na suporta sa Mindanao Examiner Newspaper & Television. Mabuhay!
A huge crowd gathered at a coastal park called Paseo del Mar in the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga to welcome the New Year with a display of colorful fireworks. Residents from various villages trooped to the park before midnight and waited until the clock strikes 12 and joined the countdown to the New Year.
AUSTRALIANS OFF-LIMITS IN MINDANAO MANILA – Australia has warned its citizens against travelling to Mindanao following the release of a video of kidnapped Sydney adventurer Warren Rodwell, who is being held by al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines. Rodwell was kidnapped by gunmen disguised as policemen on December 5, 2011 in his seaside home in the town of Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay province. Maj. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, said Rodwell is being held in Basilan province off Zamboanga City and that efforts are going on to rescue the former soldier. “Our efforts to locateWarren Rodwell are continuing,
but the kidnappers have been constantly moving from one location to another and that is our problem now. He is also being used by the Abu Sayyaf as human shield and the safety of Warren is our top concern also,” Cruz told the Mindanao Examiner. In the latest video clip, Rodwell, wearing a black sweat shirt appeared cleanly shaven, but frail and holding a copy of a newspaper dated December 16, 2012. “The Australian travel advice for the Philippines continues to recommend no travel in central or western Mindanao and warns of the danger of kidnapping in that area,” Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said in a statement.
Carr said the prolonged captivity of Rodwell remains a major concern. “The Philippines Government has the lead in response to this case and is devoting significant resources to securing Mr Rodwell’s release.The Australian Government is assisting Philippines authorities where appropriate.We are also in regular communication with Mr Rodwell’s family. It would not be helpful to Mr Rodwell to comment further,” he said. Rodwell, in his 2 minute video clip, said: “I have been held prisoner, kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf Muslim terrorist group for over one year, actually 54 weeks today. I was kidnapped on December 5, 2012. This video clip today is to say
that I am live. I am waiting to be released. I have no idea what’s going on outside. I am just kept, held prisoner in isolation.” “Again, I am alive. It’s 378 days I think, something like that. This newspaper is from the Philippines. If any, honestly and if there is some negotiation I do not get any information and the people around me don’t normally speak English and I understand something is happening but I don’t know when. I do not expect to be released before the year 2013 at the earliest. I personally hold no hope at all for being release. I do not trust the Abu Sayyaf, I do not trust the Australian government. I just don’t trust anyone, personally, I don’t care.” The Abu Sayyaf has demanded $2 million ransom for Rodwell’s safe release, but his Filipina wife, Miraflor Gutang, said they cannot afford to pay the kidnappers. (Mindanao Examiner)
Salvadora Gutang shows a post-wedding photo of her daughter Miraflor and Australian Warren Rodwell. Rodwell, a former Australian army-turned-teacher in China, married the Filipina in June this year in Zamboanga Sibugay province in the southern Philippines only weeks after meeting her on the internet. Rodwell was kidnapped by five gunmen on December 5 in his house in Zamboanga Sibugay. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)
The Mindanao Examiner
Jan. 7-13, 2013
Distressed, undocumented OFWs in Jordan complain vs PH Embassy
School children wave as the new bus deployed by mining firm TVIRD prepares to leave in Mount Canatuan in Siocon town in Zamboanga del Norte province.
MANILA – A Filipino migrants rights group called Migrante-Middle East assailed the Philippine Embassy in Jordan after it imposed hefty charges on distressed and undocumented Filipino workers who are coming home. It branded as “greedy act” the Philippine embassy’s decision to charged departing Filipinos 50% of the airfare cost and full amount on the processing and so-called overstaying fees, despite Jordan’s amnesty to all overstaying and undocumented migrants. Because of this, many Filipinos who wanted to avail of the amnesty said they cannot afford what the Philippine embassy is now imposing. They said the em-
bassy should help them avail of the amnesty and return home. “Around 62 distressed and undocumented OFWs in Jordan conveyed to us that they are supposed to avail the amnesty granted by the host Jordan government. Unfortunately, many of them have yet to file an application to avail for the amnesty,” John Leonard Monterona, Migrante’s regional coordinator, said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner. He said 32 OFWs have been staying at the Filipino Workers Resource Center since 2011, while 30 of them opted to stay out of FWRC, which is being run and manage by the Philippine Overseas Labor and Overseas
Workers Welfare Administration under the supervision of the Philippine embassy. There are also about two dozen OFWs at a deportation center in Nadara who wanted to avail the amnesty program which would end on January 4, 2013. “It was so unfortunate that the cause of OFWs failure to avail the amnesty were due to greed and ineptness of Philippine embassy, labor and welfare officials in Jordan as the OFWs complained that they were told to pay 50% of their airfare and pay the corresponding fees for processing of their papers and overstaying penalty,” Monterona said. Monterona said the OFWs pointed to Sonny Saculdito, who allegedly told
them to pay the required fees in order to through the formalities of the amnesty application. The allegations could not be immediately confirmed. “This is contrary to the information we have received from our Migrante staff in Manila, which the DFA through its case officer Ariel Gatchalian confirming that the fees will be taken from the Assistance to the National. Undocumented at distressed OFWs na nga kinu-kutongan pa. Sana sinagot na ng Aquino government at Department of Foreign Affairs ang mga nasabing bayarin pamas-ko nila sa mga naturang OFWs. Nasaan ang diwa ng Pasko sa kasong eto?” Monterona asked.
pines. Ejercito Estrada, son of former President Joseph Estrada, said the bill has already been ratified by Congress and is just awaiting Aquino's signature for the measure to be enacted. So far, Malacanang has not issued any statement to explain the cause of delay. "I am just wondering what keeps President Aquino from signing the Kasambahay bill. I am appealing to his sense of compassion. I hope he will realize the importance of the measure to lowly household helpers, some of whom are being maltreated by abusive employers," Ejercito Estrada said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner. He said household help-
ers would continue to be subjected to maltreatment and abuse if the measure is not enacted immediately. Ejercito Estrada, who is also the vice-chairman of the House Committee on Labor, said Aquino has recently approved the Reproductive Health and SinTax Acts in time for Christmas, but not the Kasambahay Bill. "I had hoped that the Kasambahay Bill would serve as the government's Christmas gift to household helpers. As it turned out, the measure was not enacted by the President," Ejercito Estrada, who is running for senator under the United Nationalist Alliance, said. Under the bill, the minimum salary of a domestic helper is pegged at P2,500 in Metro Manila, P2,000 in chartered cities and first-class municipalities, and P1,500 in the rest of the country. Apart from monetary compensation, which includes 13th month pay, the measure also mandates employers to enroll their house helpers in Social Security System, Philhealth, and Pag-ibig Fund and to pay part of their monthly contribution. Also, household helpers should be given at least eight hours rest every day, including a day off once a week.
President Aquino signs San Juan Rep. JV Ejercito new contraception law Estrada urges PNoy to sign 'Kasambahay' Bill President Benigno Aquino has signed the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (Republic Act No. 10354) which the Catholic Church is strongly opposing, but many Filipinos welcome the new law that promotes contraception. Deputy Presidential
Spokesperson Abigail Valte said Aquino signed the new law on December 21 and it will take effect 15 days after its publication in at least two newspapers. “The passage into law of the Responsible Parenthood Act closes a highly divisive chapter of our history—a chapter borne of the convic-
tions of those who argued for, or against this Act, whether in the legislative branch or in civil society. At the same time, it opens the possibility of cooperation and reconciliation among different sectors in society: engagement and dialogue characterized not by animosity, but by our collective desire to better the welfare of the Filipino people,” she said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner. “This is the mark of a true democracy: one in which debate that spans all levels of society is spurred by deeply-held beliefs and values, enriching and elevating public discourse, as we all work together to find ways to improve the lives of our fellow citizens,” she said. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said the new law will
SAN JUAN CITY Representative JV Ejercito Estrada on Thursday urged President Benigno Aquino to sign the Domestic Workers' Act Bill, widely known as the Kasambahay Bill, for the sake of over 2 million household helpers all over the Philip-
The Mindanao Examiner
Jan. 7-13, 2013
Gusali sa Zamboanga, sinakop pati sidewalk!
TVIRD disaster team helps in the evacuation of residents in Mt. Canatuan in Zamboanga del Norte’s Siocon Town..
ZAMBOANGA CITY – Hindi alintana ng mga awtoridad at pamahala-ang lokal ang nakaam-bang panganib sa mga residente matapos na sakupin ng isang ginagawang gusali ang malaking bahagi ng isang sidewalk sa downtown Zamboanga City. Naging masikip ang naturang kalsada dahil sa kalye na mismo naglalakad ang mga residente bunsod ng panganib ng sakuna dahil sa mga sasakyan. Hindi naman agad mabatid kung bakit ito pinayagan ng pamahalaan, ngunit talamak ang ganitong practise sa Zamboanga at ang katunayan ay ganito rin ang dinanas ng mga residente sa katatapos lamang na renovation ng isa pang kalapit na gusali. Wala naman aksyon ang mga awtoridad sa naturang problema. “(Do) temporary construction sidewalk permit and overhang ring a bell?” sambit naman ni Councilman Cesar Jimenez bilang reaksyon sa naturang balita. (Mindanao Examiner)
TVIRD mobilizes for disaster preparedness in Zambo Norte ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE - Mining firm TVI Resource Development (Phils.) Inc. mobilized its emergency response team in Mount Canatuan in Siocon town in Zamboanga del Norte province where it operate as part of community disaster preparedness following recent typhoons to hit the southern Philippines. TVIRD also alerted its engineering department to expedite the relocation of families living in nearby Agolo community in case of a new typhoon or storm. Foot hill village Agolo is inhabited by informal settlers and has grown significantly in population over the years and its proximity to the TVIRD plant site gave birth to cottage enterprise and small establishments that thrive on the presence of the mining firm. However, Agolo is unfortunately located at the foot of a hill that has naturally weakened after two recent typhoons that pummelled the region. “Agolo community sits beside a landslideprone area and we cannot afford to risk the safety of the people living there,” TVIRD General Manager Heliodoro Valmores said in a statement. Company workers have been helping in the transfer of Agolo’s inhabitants to eliminate any possible harm to members of the community and their dwellings in the event of a landslide that may be caused by heavy rains.
Nearly half of the Agolo community had been relocated to a safe and higher grounds even before Typhoon Quinta hit Mindanao, according to Engr. Ed Nercuit, chief of TVIRD’s Engineer ing Department. Residents have been evacuated twice by the TVIRD disaster teams this year - first was during the onslaught of Typhoon Lawin last September and early this month when Typhoon Pablo made its mark as the most destructive storm to hit Mindanao, and the recent typhoon Quinta. Nercuit said the company is mandated to evacuate the entire community yet again should there be a need to. In the wake of recent calamities in the country, TVIRD mobilized its personnel as well as considerable resources geared towards preparedness for natural disasters. This has been the company’s order of business for the week. Parallel to this, management and staff gathered used clothing, relief items and monetary donations for the victims of Typhoon Pablo in Davao Oriental. Engr. Art Abad, Safety Department Manager and the overseer of the company and the community’s safety, said the decision to clear the area of people was made when
a geo-hazard study identified that in its natural course, the grounds have become loosened. The unsteady composition is also compounded by recent strong typhoons that br ing an unprecedented amount of rainfall. “ This (Agolo) is the most dangerous place during heavy rains, and it would be best if people are no longer there to prevent the loss of lives,” Abad said. Abad said that the company’s geo-hazard team conducted a survey in the area upon his department’s request. “After the typhoon Lawin, this is so far the only place that remained a geo-hazard that has people living nearby. Ours is a company that puts safety of the lives of our workers and community above everything else,” Abad said, citing the merits of its preventive measures. “Of course, typhoon Lawin was the worst typhoon we ever experienced. Luckily, no people were hurt from our host communities. But like R.T. Lim and Siocon, we were not spared by its effects. In fact, until today we are still performing repairs of the damage caused by the typhoon,” Valmores said. He said the volume of Lawin’s rain water was comparable to Typhoon Ondoy that devastated Manila a few years back. Siocon Mayor Ceasar Soriano said Typhoon Lawin’s onslaught on September 21 and 22 was the town’s most destructive natural disaster in five de-
cades. It caused massive flooding in the region that impacted Siocon, Sirawai and Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner)
Makikita sa larawan ang mga residente habang naglalakad sa gitna ng kalye sa downtown Zamboanga City dahil sinakop ng isang ginagawang gusali ang malaking bahagi ng sidewalk doon. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)
The Mindanao Examiner
Jan. 7-13, 2013
Last Full Moon of 2012 in Southern Philippines
Last full moon of 2012 photographed in Kidapawan City in the southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo - Geonarri Solmerano)
Last full moon of 2012 photographed in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines.(Mindanao Examiner Photo)
The moon appears to be near the sun in this (lens) reflection of the last full moon of 2012 photographed in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines.(Mindanao Examiner Photo)
The moon appears to be passing behind the sun as an eclipse in this (lens) reflection of the last full moon of 2012 photographed in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo) missioning the research effort. The young Enrile has been in public service for 10 for the 2013 senatorial polls, years now starting as an according to the latest Pulse elected representative in 1998 Asia survey. and serving a full term of 9 The son of one of the consecutive years until 2007 country’s most influential for the First District of the Provand respected political leader ince of Cagayan. and namesake, Senate presiIndependent minded, he dent Juan Ponce Enrile, Jack has stood up for fairness and Enrile placed 5th in the sur- equity believing that uplifting vey. the lives of Filipinos can only Pulse Asia President Pro- be done if one empowers fessor Ronald Holmes said them and involves them in the the survey asked Filipinos process and levelling the playtheir senatorial preferences ing field for every Filipino is for the May 2013 elections. “As important to Enrile “since it is in our previous surveys, this the only way one can rise to nationwide survey is based confront poverty and hunger.” on a sample of 1,200 repreThe original author of sentative adults 18 years old Batas Kasambahay or the Maand above. It has a ± 3% error gna Carta of Household Helpmargin at the 95% confidence ers (HN553), Enrile is also aulevel.” thor of Anti-Trust (HN549); “Sub-national estimates increasing the allowable perfor each of the geographic ar- sonal and additional exempeas covered in the survey tions of individual taxpayers (Metro Manila, the rest of (550); reducing the income tax Luzon, Visayas and rates of individual taxpayers Mindanao) have a ± 6% error (HN551); defining the crime of margin, also at 95% confi- home invasion, among others. dence level,” Pulse Asia said, Enrile is a member of the adding in keeping with its aca- following committees in the demic nature, no religious, 15th Congress - Accounts, Agpolitical, economic, or parti- riculture and Food, Approsan group influenced any of priations andWay and Means these processes. and a strong advocate of food It said Pulse Asia under- sovereignty and credit card retakes surveys on its own with- form. (With a report from out any party singularly com- Francis Hidalgo, Jr.)
Who is Cagayan Congressman Jack Enrile? CONGRESSMAN JACK ENRILE has been an ardent student of life. Learning from it, being reformed by it and living it to the fullest, this time in pursuit of serving the country, hoping to make a difference in solving the nation’s major problems: poverty and hunger in his lifetime. A non-conventional change agent, Jack has stood up for fairness and equity believing that uplifting the lives of Filipinos can only be done if one empowers them and involves them in the process. Leveling the playing field for
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every Filipino is important to Jack since it is the only way one can rise to confront poverty and hunger. Independent minded, Jack has been in public service for 10 years now starting as an elected representative in 1998 and serving a full term (9 consecutive years) until 2007 for the First District of the Province of Cagayan. The original author of Batas Kasambahay or the Magna Carta of Household Helpers (HN553), Jack is also author of Anti-Trust (HN549); increasing the allowable personal and additional exemptions of individual taxpayers (550); reducing the income tax rates of individual taxpayers (HN551); defining the crime of home invasion, among others. An advocate of food sovereignty and credit card reform, Jack is a member of the following committees in the 15th Congress: Accounts, Agriculture and Food, Appro-
priations and Way & Means. The only son and namesake of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile of Cagayan and the former Ambassador to the Vatican, H.E. Cristina Castaner-Ponce Enrile of Manila, Jack completed his elementary (1972) and high school (1976) education from Ateneo de Manila University. He finished his Bachelor of Arts at Christian Heritage College, El Cajon, California and his Presidential Masters in Business Administration at Pepperdine University, Malibu, California. A reservist of the 4th Philippine Marine Brigade, Jack is founder of the Philippine Practical Shooting Association and Regional Director of the International Practical Shooting Confederation. Jack Enrile, who is running for senator under the United Nationalist Alliance of Vice President Jejomar Binay, remains one of the most favored among 32 candidates
Good Samaritans save man from possible stroke ZAMBOANGA CITY - The timely response of people around and the quick arrival of a medical team have saved the life of a man who nearly suffered a stroke at a telecom office in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines. Joseph Climaco Directo, whose name was identified through his driver’s license, was at the office of the PLDT and waiting for his turn to be called by the service represen-
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Asa Madale Lanao Provinces Ely Dumaboc Zamboanga Sibugay/Zamboanga del Sur/Zamboanga del Norte John Shinn III California The Mindanao Examiner Newspaper/Business Week/Mindanao Daily is published weekly/daily in Zamboanga City and Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao, Philippines. The Mindanao Examiner Television is broadcast in Skycable 54 in Zamboanga; Lupah Sug Cable in Sulu province and Basilan Cable in Basilan province. Our business and editorial offices are located at Units 15, 3rd Floor, Fair Land Bldg., Nuñez St., Zamboanga City Phone & fax: +63 62 9925480 Mobile: +63 9152756606 URL: mindanaoexaminer.com E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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tative when he suddenly dropped his phone and began shaking and salivating. Directo could hardly moved, his eyes shut closed as other customers alerted the security guards who phoned for an ambulance. Concerned customers took turns and massaging Directo’s chest to alleviate his breathing condition until medical help could arrive. One woman pricked a needle on Directo’s finger tip, saying it would help loosen up the pressure of the man’s body. But medical experts said it would not help a victim of stroke and could only delay treatment. Members of Zamboanga’s Emergency Medical Services arrived just in time and examined the man whose blood pressure was at 160. It took about 30 minutes before Directo managed to speak, although he was severely disoriented. The radio station dzRZ of the Radio Mindanao Network also flashed an emergency broadcast to alert Directo’s family about his condition. Directo was eventually rushed to the Ciudad Medical for emergency medical treatment. (Mindanao Examiner)
Jan. 7-13, 2013
The Mindanao Examiner
The Mindanao Examiner
Jan. 7-13, 2013
The Mindanao Examiner
Jan. 7-13, 2013
Ar my soldier s pla y Santa ffor or Arm soldiers play pa tients in Cota ba to hospital patients Cotaba bato
Isa lamang ito sa maraming tindahan ng mga pirated DVDs sa Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)
Pirated DVDs, talamak ang bentahan sa Zambo! ZAMBOANGA CITY – Talamak ang bentahan ng mga pirated DVDs kung anuano pang mga palsipikadong produkto sa Zamboanga City at maging sa loob ng malls na binibantayan ng mga parak ay lantaran rin ang bentahan ng mga ito. At sa halagang P30 ay makakabili ng mga pirated movies at marami sa mga ito
ay halos hindi pa naipapalabas sa mga sinehan sa Zamboanga. Sa mga malls ay lantaran ang bentahan ng mga pirated films at gayun rin ang ibatibang uri ng mga palsipikadong lotion, pabango at kung anu-ano pa, kabilang ang mga computer software. Ngunit dedma lamang
ang Department of Trade and Industry at mga awtoridad, at pamahala-ang lokal sa patuloy ng ilegal na gawain. Kalimi-tang dahilan ng mga ito ay wala umanong nagsasam-pa ng reklamo sa kanila o kaya ay kulang sila ng tauhan upang pigilin ang lumalaganap na bentahan ng palsikipikadong produkto. (Mindanao Examiner)
Rep. JV Ejercito Estrada celebrates birthday with fire victims MANILA – Rep. JV Ejercito Estrada celebrated the yuletide seasons and his birthday with some 8,000 victims of a recent fire in San Juan City. Ejercito Estrada, who turned 49, also shared foods to some 1,000 people in the evacuation area. He said his
constituents needed the food more than his family and friends. The lawmaker, who is a son of former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, also appealed for relief aid for the fire victims, mostly from Barangay Saint Joseph. Ejercito Estrada was
praised by many for his noble deeds just like his father, who always celebrate his birthday with the poor. Sonia Keh, the lawmaker’s aunt, said: “That was the noblest birthday you shared with San Juan fire victims. Birthday comes every year, but your constituents need your help now. With my full admiration for that sincere concern to the fire victims’ God
COTABATO CITY – Dozens of patients at a hospital in Cotabato City were moved to tears after soldiers led by an army mascot visited and sang Christmas carols and danced before handing out goodies to them. Dubbed as the “Singing Bee,” members of the 7th Infantry Battalion headed by Col. Benjamin Hao, serenaded the patients who were overwhelmed by the surprise visit of the soldiers at the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center. Shirley Salik, medical social worker, and Mark Navales, bureau chief of the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner, helped coordinate the visit of Hao, whose group is recently named as Best Battalion by the 6th Infantry Division in Maguindanao province. “It was very moving and many were in tears as the soldiers sang for them. Col. Hao and the soldiers were likewise moved and elated by the warm reception of everybody at the hospital and all these for the spirit of the yuletide holidays,” Navales said. (Mindanao Examiner)
Members of the 7th Infantry Battalion headed by Col. Benjamin Hao visit the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center in Cotabato City where they sing and dance, bringing cheers to patients. (Mindanao Examiner Photo - Mark Navales)
rewardsthosewhohelpothers. Happy Birthday.” Malou Manlapaz also left a comment on Ejercito Estrada’s Facebook page and said: “I salute you Sen. JV. Keep up the good work Sen. JV.” “Sen” refers to a Senator. Ejercito Estrada is running for senator under the United Nationalist Alliance of Vice President Jejomar Binay. Ejercito Estrada has maintained a top place in recent and separate surveys by the independent Social Weather Station and Pulse Asia, Inc. (Mindanao Examiner)
Food booths at Pinaglabanan Shrine in San Juan City were manned by city government department heads, employees and police. About 8,000 fire survivors were treated to lechon, pancit, chicken, puto for medya moche.
The Mindanao Examiner
Jan. 7-13, 2013
‘On the achievements of the administration for 2012’ By Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda WHEN THE FILIPINO PEOPLE gave an overwhelming mandate to President Benigno S. Aquino III in 2010, there were those who remained skeptical of the extent of reforms that can be instituted, given the entrenched culture of corruption and mistrust of government. The many achievements of the Aquino administration in 2012 should put those doubts to rest. At home and around the world, the Philippines has become recognized as a bastion of stability and good governance. Through hard work, deft decision-making, and intense political will, the President has laid down the foundations of justice and inclusive growth. Through it all, he continues to clean house, eliminate waste, and put primacy on restoring public trust in our institutions. Almost a year after calls for “all out war” against Moro separatists were answered by a firm and sober “all out justice” stance by the President, the MILF and GRP signed a historic Framework Agreement that sets the stage for a final, enduring peace in Mindanao. This is among the first successful dialogues between a government and a Muslim separatist movement in the modern era, and could set the template on how to peacefully handle such conflicts across the world. While an atmosphere of peace is now beginning to set over the conflict-ridden south, the entire country is experiencing a newfound sense of justice and fairness. After the President publicly announced judicial reform as among the bedrocks of his agenda, the House of Representatives impeached former Chief Justice Renato Corona over allegations of betraying the public trust. He was later on convicted and removed from office by an overwhelming majority of Senators. This heralded the arrival of a judiciary characterized not by secrecy and patronage, but by integrity and competence. The appointment of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, and later Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, sustained the momentum of reform in the judiciary. The message is clear: If a Chief Justice can be impeached— and a former president put under hospital arrest for alleged plunder and electoral sabotage— then so can anyone; a crime is a crime, regardless of wealth or status in society. With
this principle in mind, the President signed into law the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act, the first of its kind in Asia, which criminalizes the unlawful arrest of civilians and ensures the preservation and protection of every Filipino’s civil liberties. This law clearly demonstrates the President’s commitment to human rights. Through these reforms, we are strengthening a system where the law serves the people and works towards their full development. Without doubt, we are moving towards a society where fairness reigns— fueled by a people empowered by its government. Nowhere is this empowerment more evident than in the investments that the government has channeled towards education, health, and poverty alleviation. Agencies such as the Department of Health, the Department of Education, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (which spearheads the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program,) have all experienced sharp increases in their budget, proving the President’s resolve to lift our countrymen from the margins of society. Congress enacted the Responsible Parenthood Law to foster public health and access to information on reproductive health to citizens who are free to act in accordance with their conscience. In this manner, a deeply divisive issue was finally resolved. Health for the citizenry also informed the momentous passage of the Sin Tax Reform Law. After languishing for several terms, and in the face of tremendous pressure from lobbyists, Congress responded to the bill’s certification as urgent by the President, and passed the law before the end of the year. Legislators, commentators, and media have all lauded the President’s political will in passing these laws. These political initiatives came hand-in-hand with a roaring economy, one that has experienced strong growth and stable inflation despite the uncertainties of the global economy. Philippine GDP growth for the 3rd quarter hit a two-year high of 7.1 percent— the highest in Southeast Asia, and among the top performing economies in Asia. Meanwhile, the Philippine Stock Exchange index this year broke record high after record high, soaring above expectations and breaching the 5,800 mark. The Philippine Peso also appreciated by as much as 6 percent this year and is projected to gain even more strength in the coming year. These positive indicators are underpinned by
an administration that has maintained fiscal discipline, initiated reforms to ramp up quality public spending, and invested heavily in both social and physical infrastructure. This is manifested in the 2.006 trillion peso General Appropriations Act for 2013, 10.5 percent higher than the 2012 budget. The 2013 GAA continues the Aquino administration’s tradition of an on-time passage of the budget— eliminating leak-prone reenactments and showing the determination of government to ensure that ever y peso of the budget is spent wisely. Not only is the President enjoying the highest sustained public approval ratings in history— he is also being recognized by the international community as a true leader in foreign affairs. The Philippines has taken the lead in upholding a peaceful, multilateral, and consensus-driven diplomatic approach as regards territorial disputes. In this regard, President Aquino has stood his ground thus gaining the admiration of his fellow leaders in the global arena. While these past two and half years have been a period of continued renewal for the countr y, 2012 in particular has been a year of rebuilding and restoration. This year we saw the full effect of political will used correctly and for the right purposes, knowing that power is merely lent by the people to their leaders to ultimately ser ve the countr y’s best interests. By all indicators, this was the best year for the Philippines in a long time, a time for celebration and pride for the reclaimed standing of our country as we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other rising nations of the world. In 2012, we turned the corner, fixed the damage wrought by the crooked ways of the past, and established further that the straight path is the only way forward. Despite the tragedies that have visited the countr y in 2012— from natural disasters to the untimely demise of a beloved refor mist— the Filipino people have shown that their spirit cannot be broken. As the administration embarks on 2013, there is all the more reason for Filipinos to travel on the straight path under the leadership of President Aquino and the adherents to his noble cause.
The Mindanao Examiner
Jan. 7-13, 2013
Philippines records all-time high influx of business missions MANILA - The Department of Trade and Industry said unparalleled record of inbound business missions to the Philippines manifests the strong confidence of foreign investors in the country’s business environment. “Consistent with positive reviews of international rating agencies on the Philippines, this influx of business missions is a strong affirmation of the Aquino administration’s economic reforms that have resonated prominently to foreign investors worldwide,” Trade Undersecretary Cristino Panlilio said in a statement. He said the Board of Investments recorded a total of 487 inbound busi-
ness corporation visits from January to October 2012. These missions are composed of 147 individual company visits and 34 multi-company delegation missions, where each mission is composed of at least 5 corporations’ executives. Panlilio also noted that the increase in inbound business missions can be attributed to the revival of interest of markets such as United Kingdom, France and Canada, and the growing interest coming from non-traditional markets like Russia, Europe, particularly, Turkey, Oman, Iran, Qatar, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, and Africa. “Traditional markets such as Japan, US, Taiwan, and Korea remained a ma-
jor source of foreign investor visits,” Panlilio said. These inbound mission’s sectors of interest are information technology–business process outsourcing, power including green energy, infrastructure or public-private partnership projects, tourism, agribusiness and aquaculture, and manufacturing of aerospace parts, electronics, garments and textiles, steel, machineries, automotive, shipbuilding, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. The BOI also recorded a total of 13 outbound missions and four Presidential state visits in Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Australia, and Cambodia. The
areas of interests are maintenance, repair and overhaul services, electricity generation and transmission, hydropower power, tourism, energy, e-vehicle, agro-business, shipbuilding, business process outsourcing, duty free shops, and investments in economic zones and in Mindanao. “In 2013, we expect this trend to continue with numerous investor queries and requests for assistance in the conduct of our due diligence activities. We are also anticipating a considerable increase in realized investment projects with value propositions from the industry road maps developed this year,” Panlilio said.
A security guard searches bags or travellers in a bus depot in the southern Philippine city of Kidapawan. (Mindanao Examiner Photo – Geonarri Solmerano)
Kidapawan City heightens security in bus depots KIDAPAWAN CITY – Philippine authorities tightened security in Kidapawan City following a deadly attack on a passenger bus in the southern region of Mindanao. More policemen were in bus depot here and other areas to ensure public safety. A recent bomb explosion ripped through a passenger bus in Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat province, killing at least 5 people. The military did not say what type of explosive was used in the attack. No individual or group
has claimed responsibility for the explosion, but similar attacks on provincial buses in the past had been largely blamed to extortionists and criminal gangs. In November, government troops disarmed four mortar bombs in the compartment of an abandoned motorcycle also in the town of Isulan. The explosives were discovered after residents noticed a cell phone and a battery hanging from the motorcycle parked in downtown Isulan. (Geonarri Solmerano)
Zamboanga City, Philippines
Jan. 7-13, 2013
‘State of Kidnappings’ in Southern Philippines
ZAMBO ANGA CIT Y – IItt has been mor e than two yyears ears since JJapanese apanese tr easur e hunter AMBOANGA CITY more treasur easure amaito was abducted b y the A bu S ayyaf on the island of P angutar an in the Mamaito by Abu Sayyaf Pangutar angutaran Katayama M souther nP hilippine pr ovince of S ulu. southern Philippine pro Sulu. Police said Katayama, whose real name seaside town of Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay is Toshio Ito, 66, is still alive, but there have province on December 5, 2011. been no efforts from either the Philippines Rodwell, 54, is married to a Filipina or Japanese government to rescue the foreigner. He was last reported to have been helping the Abu Sayyaf in cooking food for them and freely moves around, according to Senior Superintendent Antonio Freyra, the Sulu provincial police chief. Aside from Katayama, the Abu Sayyaf is also holding Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani, 43, and his two Filipino assistants Rolando Letrero, 22, and Ramelito Vela, 39. The trio went to Sulu province in June to secretly film the Abu Sayyaf for a documentary on Al Arabiya News Channel. Prior to his detention, Atyani has had previously travelled to the province in secrecy to interview terrorist leaders, the Philippine military said. The military has previously said it would arrest Atyani for espionage should he be released by the Abu Sayyaf. Atyani had also clandestinely interviewed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden before the 9/11 attacks in the United States. Tour ism black ey e ourism eye Freyra said two European wildlife photographers Ewold Horn, 52, from Holland; and Lorenzo Vinciguerre, 47, from Switzerland, kidnapped in February this year in (Mindanao Examiner Photo) Tawi-Tawi province had been brought to Miraflor Gutang, then 27, but local police said Sulu province. “We have been constantly monitoring the marriage was in trouble within months the situation of all these kidnapped victims after their June 2011 wedding. Shortly after Rodwell’s kidnapping, the now in Sulu, but the Abu Sayyaf, as in the past, is highly mobile and would change their then local police chief Edwin Verzon said hideouts from time to time to avoid detec- Gutang had filed two complaints of abuse tion by government authorities. We have against the Australian and Gutang’s parents people on the grounds monitoring develop- said she had moved out of their shared ments and feeding us intelligence about house just two weeks previously. Verzon was these victims,” Freyra told the regional news- later sacked for his comments and the local governor Rommel Jalosjos imposed a blackpaper Mindanao Examiner. He said the government has a strict no out on Rodwell news coverage. Just recently, a video clip of Rodwell - a ransom policy and authorities would not negotiate with terrorists. “We would like these prolific world traveller and English teacher problems resolved soon and our operations in China - was uploaded in YouTube as a proof of life. Rodwell, who appeared frail to locate the victims continue,” he said. Police in Tawi-Tawi said the duo was al- and desperate, said he does not trust the Abu legedly seized by rogue members of the Moro Sayyaf and the Australian government and National Liberation Front. Another group of holds no hope that he would be released bekidnappers are also holding a Malaysian fish fore the end of the year. No-r ansom policy o-ransom trader Pang Choon Pong, who was seized in Rodwell’s wife also has not issued any October 2011 in Tawi-Tawi, but his fate restatement about the latest proof of life of her mains unknown. husband. The Abu Sayyaf has demanded $2 New kidnappings in S abah Sabah In November, Malaysian authorities said million for Rodwell’s freedom, but Gutang two of its nationals were seized by 5 gunmen previously appealed to the kidnappers to free disguised as policemen from a palm oil plan- her husband, saying he is not rich, and they cannot afford to pay the ransom. tation in Sabah near the Philippine border. Manila maintained it has a strict no-ranIt said the two, who are cousins, were both working for the plantation in Lahad som policy, although it secretly paid or Datu, and had been taken at gunpoint. Their helped pay ransom for high-profile kidcompanions said the gunmen spoke in napped victims in Mindanao. Rodwell has appealed for his safe release Malayu and Tausug, a dialect commonly used in the southern provinces of Tawi-Tawi in a video sent by his captors to his wife shortly after his kidnapping. “To my family and Sulu. There were no immediate reports please do whatever to raise the two million whether the foreigners are being held in ei- US dollars they are asking for my release as ther of the two provinces, but Malaysia said soon as possible. To the government, to the Filipino government especially the governthe victims could be in Tawi-Tawi. ment of Zamboanga Sibugay, (Governor) Proof of life Abu Sayyaf gunmen are also holding an Rommel (Jalosjos), I’m appealing to you Australian adventurer, Warren Rodwell, a please help me to coordinate with my family former soldier, who was kidnapped in the to raise to whatever money is being asked.”
The kidnappers eventually lowered their demand to only $460,000 in another video released by the Abu Sayyaf in March. Sear ch on going earch Major General Ricardo Rainier Cruz, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, said
Rodwell is being held in Basilan province off Zamboanga City and that efforts are going on to rescue the former soldier. “Our efforts to locate Warren Rodwell are continuing, but the kidnappers have been constantly moving from one location to another and that is our problem now. He is also being used by the Abu Sayyaf as human shield and the safety of Warren is our top concern also,” Cruz said in an interview. Rebel and terr or ist gr oups terror orist groups The Abu Sayyaf, which means “Bearer of the sword,” has been tied to dozens of kidnappings over the past decade in the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi – all in the Muslim autonomous region; and Zamboanga City and other areas in Western Mindanao. The group, authorities said, has links with the al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya terror networks and is responsible in many bombings in key areas not only in Mindanao, but also in the Philippine capital. Some leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, were also accused as behind many kidnappings-for-ransom, some of them involving foreign missionaries in Mindanao. And so were other smaller criminal groups such as the Pentagon Gang, whose members were former rebels of the MILF. Authorities also blamed the communist New People’s Army in several abductions of soldiers, policemen and even civilians suspected of working or passing information to the military about the rebel group. But unlike the Abu Sayyaf or the MILF, the NPA usually abduct their victims for political reasons. Kidnappings for ransom remain the biggest threat to personal security, second to terrorism in the restive, but mineral-rich region of Mindanao.
Ransom for w eapons weapons Security officials said the Abu Sayyaf is the most notorious militant group involved in kidnappings-for-ransom and victimized mostly wealth Filipino traders and foreigners, but lately had been targeting even ordinary people who can pay ransom for as low as P100,000. And those who cannot pay are beheaded. Officials said the Abu Sayyaf uses its ransom collections to purchase weapons and fund future terror attacks in the country and were believed channelling funds to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya. Among the highest-profile kidnappings carried out by the Abu Sayyaf were the 2000 raid cross-border raid in Malaysia where it took 21 mostly Western holidaymakers and ransomed them off for millions of dollars to private negotiators of foreign governments whose citizens had been kidnapped. It also kidnapped Jeffrey Craig Schilling, an American citizen, while travelling in Sulu province also in 2000. It was followed the next year with the kidnapping of 20 people, including American missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham, and compatriot Guillermo Sobero, who was later beheaded. Abu Sayyaf militants also kidnapped dozens of Filipinos, including teachers and students and a Catholic priest in a raid of a town in Basilan province. And this was followed through the years by kidnapping Filipino traders, but in 2008 the militants seized a popular local television news anchor Ces Drilon and his two cameramen and a guide while on their way to clandestinely interview an Abu Sayyaf leader. And in January 2009, Abu Sayyaf kidnapped three members of the International Red Cross - Andreas Notter, of Switzerland; Eugenio Vagni, of Italy and Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba. And there was suspicion that ransoms were paid to the kidnappers either in Malaysia or Indonesia after authorities claimed that Mauiya, an Indian Jemaah Islamiya militant, was negotiating with the hostages’ representatives. Sri Lankan peace worker, Omar Jaleel, of the Non-violent Peace Force, was also taken in Basilan the same year; and so were other Filipinos seized in the province and Zamboanga City. In 1998, Italian priest Luciano Benedetti was kidnapped by rogue MILF rebels and released after eight weeks in captivity. In 2001, renegade MILF rebels also snatched Italian priest Giuseppe Pierantoni as the 44-year-old from Bologna said mass in the parish church of Dimataling town in Zamboanga del Sur and missionary Giancarlo Bossi, of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions, in Payao town in Zamboanga del Sur in 2007. And in 2009, rogue MILF rebels also kidnapped Irish priest Michael Sinnott from his missionary house in Pagadian City and freed months later after ransom was paid. Officials said kidnappings-for-ransom has become a lucrative business for rebels and criminal syndicates in Mindanao, where many areas are underdeveloped and job opportunities are scarce. Sometimes gangs kidnapped civilians and hand them over to rebels in exchange for a cut in the ransom. Poverty has been blamed for many kidnappings in the South. (Mindanao Examiner)