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Hugpong ng Pagbabago clarifies endorsement of local candidates

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and Zamboanga Rep. Celso Lobregat.

DAVAO CITY – Unless “explicitly stated,” candidates in the 2019 midterms election may not assume they have been endorsed by Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), a regional party co-founded by Mayor Sara Z. Duterte. Continue on page 3

China Hasn’t Delivered on Its $24 Billion Philippines Promise ALMOST TWO YEARS after China pledged $24 billion in investment to the Philippines, barely any projects have materialized, prompting deepening concerns that President Rodrigo Duterte has undermined the country’s sovereignty Continue on page 3

Presidents Rodrigo Duterte and Xi Jinping

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Duterte appointees, associates running in party-list poll

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President Rodrigo R. Duterte (Presidential Photo)

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November 19-25, 2018

Duterte appointees, associates running in party-list poll

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President Rodrigo R. Duterte (Presidential Photo)

LECTION WATCHDOG KONTRA DAYA said there are party-list groups, whose nominees are recent incumbent government officials, including some who are still believed to be supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte despite their controversial removal from public office. It said the first nomi- is a former board member nee of Pambansang Nag- of Nayong Filipino who was kakaisa sa Paggawa at fired due to a complaint by Agrikultura is Socrates another board member Piñol, a provincial board who happens to be a niece member of North Cotaba- of President Duterte. The to and brother of Depart- third nominee, Maria Kament of Agriculture Secre- trina Nicole Contacto, is a legal counsel of Duterte in tary Emmanuel Piñol. The first and third the latter’s disqualification nominees of Gawing Una case in the 2016 elections. Tagumpay ng Ordinaryong She is also chairperson of Mamamayan are worth the Youth Affairs Commitnoting, as the first nomi- tee of PDP-Laban. nee, Rex Anthony Villegas, The Hugpong Federal

Movement of the Philippines has as first nominee Peter Laviña, former administrator of the National Irrigation Administration, who resigned amid corruption allegations, according to news reports. Similarly, ABAKADA Party-list’s first nominee is Jonathan Dela Cruz, former board member of the Government Service Insurance System, who was fired due to alleged contract anomalies. The first nominee of Bahay para sa Pamilyang Pilipino, Inc., Naella Rose Bainto-Aguinaldo, was appointed member of the

Career Executive Service Board by Duterte in 2017. She also happens to be the wife of Commission on Audit Chairperson Michael Aguinaldo. For the Global Workers and Family Federation, the first nominee is Ermie Lagman Garon, a commissioner of the Philippine Commission on Women, representing the business and industry sector and is a member of the People’s National Movement for Federalism. The first nominee of Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabansa, Inc. is Aloysia Tiongson Lim, wife of Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Danilo Lim. Based on its public pronouncements, the Duterte Youth Party-list is apparently supportive of the President and runs on a platform of countering another youth party-list group that is known to be critical of the administration.

It is the only party-list group that has used “Duterte” in its name. The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) must examine if such group is legitimately seeking to represent the youth or is merely using the name of the President for political gain. The group is also associated with Duterte appointee Ronald Cardema of the National Youth Commission which raises questions on the role of the government agency in the affairs of the party-list group. Calls to COMELEC COMELEC Spokesperson James Jimenez said in a media interview that the poll body scrapped the review of party-list groups due to the ruling of the Supreme Court in 2013 that nominees do not have to be part of the marginalized and underrepresented sectors they claim to represent. However, Kontra Daya asserted that COMELEC can still look into several

issues related to the party-list groups. It said for example, the poll body can conduct a public hearing on party-list groups and the track records of their nominees in order to clarify their decision to run in the 2019 elections. According to Kontra Daya, some nominees appear to have become overnight members and nominees of their party-list groups, particularly during the period of the filing of candidacies, thus raising questions regarding their track record and advocacy. “This may be the case for party-list groups whose nominees only recently resigned from government just in time for the filing of their certificates of nomination and acceptance,” it said. There were no immediate statements from the candidates mentioned by Kontra Daya, whose convener in Associate Professor Danilo Arao. (With a report from the Mindanao Examiner.)

Senate backs creation of court for police abuses A SENATE COMMITTEE is backing the creation of a special court that will handle cases of abuse involving police officers to reform the Philippine National Police (PNP) and better protect the public. The Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, chaired by Senator Richard Gordon, is pushing for Senate Bill No. 1399 or the “Police Court Act of 2017”, which is already on second reading. “The objective of the bill is to shine the spotlight of responsibility on the law in the matter of police cases involving violation of constitutional rights, as well as crimes perpetrated by police officers upon the public,” Gordon, the bill’s author and sponsor, said. Apart from Gordon, the bill was also authored by Senators Panfilo Lacson and Loren Legarda. The bill, Gordon said, will mandate the creation of a special court to be designated as the Police Law Enforcement Court or “Police Court” among existing Regional Trial Courts (RTCs), which will have original exclusive jurisdiction “on all civil and criminal cases involving the abuse of authority of members of the PNP, whether in or off duty.” The Police Court will

handle cases arising out of violations by a member of the PNP of PNP operational procedures, rules of engagement and other protocols, as well as complaints for violation of constitutional rights involving police officers. Gordon added that the Police Court would also have original jurisdiction on cases involving the writ of habeas corpus “when there is evidence that the victim is held under the custody of any of the members of the PNP.” The bill will also mandate the creation of an “Appellate Police Court” among the divisions of the Court of Appeals (CA) that will tackle appeals coming from the Police Court. Under the bill, he said the Supreme Court will provide periodic and continuous program for training “so that they would be familiar with police procedures in terms of rules of engagement.” Gordon said the reforms under Senate Bill 1399 are meant to provide an impartial and speedy disposition of complaints for violations of constitutional rights and PNP rules and procedures, “free from the ‘kabaro’ (colleague) system.” He said much is to be desired in the pace of

prosecuting abusive police officers, noting the performance of the PNP Internal Affairs Service (IAS), the body authorized to conduct investigations and hearings on PNP members facing administrative charges. As of August 2016, the IAS has reported only 839 pending cases, while the National Police Commission (Napolocom) data from 2010 to 2015 showed 1,255 cases pending against nearly 4,000 police officers, Gordon said. “It takes years for a simple administrative matter to put a policeman under the heel of discipline,” he pointed out. The bill, he added, is also a “cogent involvement and intervention by the legislature on the issues of extrajudicial killings, salvaging and riding-in-tandem crime.” “The police must be expected to perform their duties vigorously but, in so doing, they have no license to use overwhelming force or eliminate criminals acting as judge, jury and executioner. There are no shortcuts, and the police force must follow the rules of engagement and the rule of law in their operations against illegal drugs and other criminal activities,” Gordon said.


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November 19-25, 2018

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Zambo solon tirades vs. Mayor Beng continues

China Hasn’t Delivered on Its $24 Billion Philippines Promise Continued from page 1 with little to show in return. Of the 27 deals signed between China and the Philippines during Duterte’s visit to Beijing in October 2016, China originally agreed to provide $9 billion in soft loans, including a $3 billion credit line with the Bank of China, with a further $15 billion worth of direct investments from Chinese firms in railway, port, energy and mining projects. It didn’t specify a timeline. Since then, the Philippines has completed only one loan agreement with China worth $73 million to fund an irrigation project north of the capital, Manila, according to Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia. Two bridges in Manila to be funded with Chinese grants worth up to $75 million were inaugurated recently. The process of securing loans from China “seems to be moving slower” compared to getting assistance from other countries such as Japan, Pernia said at a briefing earlier this month. Duterte has repeatedly touted China’s financial help as a key reason for pivoting away from the U.S. and Europe, which he says haven’t produced material gains for the Philippines. Yet while Beijing remains the Philippines largest trading partner, when it comes to foreign direct investment, China is outranked by Japan, the U.S., the Netherlands, South Korea and Singapore. As the Philippines’ only treaty ally, the U.S. also remains a key security partner, providing crucial assistance to the country’s armed forces last year as they struggled to defeat hundreds of Muslim militants who had laid siege to the city of Marawi. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs disputed the assertion that it had not followed through on its investment commitments in the Philippines, pointing to the bridge and irrigation projects. “China-Philippines relations are continuously strengthening and deepening,” it said in an emailed statement. “China

attaches great importance to friendly cooperation with the Philippines and enthusiastically supports President Duterte’s ’Major Construction, Strong Construction’ plan.” Duterte’s visit to Beijing in 2016 served as a turning point for his administration, reinforcing his “separation” from the U.S. and cementing his shift toward China. His critics have accused him of failing to respond forcefully after Beijing landed bomber aircraft on territory claimed by the Philippines and asserted its presence at Sandy Cay in the Spratly Island chain. “Under Duterte, the Philippines has forward deployed its geopolitical concessions,” Richard Heydarian, non-resident fellow at ADR-Stratbase Institute, a think-tank, said in an interview. “We have been used by China.” Territorial Dispute China’s popularity has suffered in the Philippines, with net trust in the country plummeting to its lowest since April 2016, the month before Duterte was elected president, according to a Social Weather Stations survey of 1,200 voters conducted over the last weekend in June. Almost nine in 10 said they wanted the Philippines to assert its claims against China in the South China Sea. For Alvin A. Camba, a doctoral candidate at Johns Hopkins University, timing isn’t the issue. The real measure is the annual foreign direct investment from China and Hong Kong, which has already reached $800 million, nearly two-thirds of what it was during the previous administration, Camba said. “There shouldn’t be any expectations for these deal to be completed, or to be close to completion,” Camba, who has written extensively on Chinese investment in the Philippines, said in an email. “Opening the economy to Chinese FDI was the correct move.” Still, many of the biggest deals don’t seem to be happening at all. Greenergy Development Corp., which

is based in Mindanao, signed an agreement to develop a $1 billion, 300-megawatt hydropower plant with Power China in October 2016. When China Power asked for the initial project deadline to be extended several times through January last year, Cerael Donggay, chief executive of Greenergy, agreed. “The last extension was in February 2017 and still nothing happened, so we terminated the agreement,” Donggay said in a phone interview, adding that his company was now in talks with a Hong Kongbased company to try to complete the project. One of the Philippines largest nickel miners, Global Ferronickel, signed an agreement with Baiyin Nonferrous Group in October 2016 to explore the construction of a stainless steel plant in the Philippines for up to $700 million. “It was put on hold,” Global Ferronickel president Dante Bravo said in an interview, because the government was yet to lift an executive order banning new mining projects. “It was exploratory. We have to convince them that it’s really viable,” Bravo said. Another agreement signed in October 2016 was a $780 million proposal to raise three islands from a waterlogged area of Davao, Duterte’s hometown. That was canceled in July last year after the city’s mayor and presidential daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, said a review of the project found that it was not commercially viable. “After the wave of euphoria which greeted those announcements in 2016, we realize now that those Chinese investment claims were hugely inflated,” said the ADR-Stratbase Institute’s Heydarian. “Looking forward, I expect Japan, the U.S. and other partners in Europe to remain the main suppliers of foreign investment to the Philippines.” (Bloomberg. By Jason Koutsoukis and Cecilia Yap. With assistance by Andreo Calonzo, and Peter Martin)

Mayor Beng Climaco (FB page) Traditional politician Celso Lobregat who is a rabid critic of popular Mayor Beng Climaco continues his tirades and black propaganda against the local government and this time blamed present administration for the results of the National Achievement Test. Lobregat told journalists that the results of the examination show how poorly the students in the elementary and secondary levels rated in the NAT, placing them second from the bottom. But Lobregat did not say that the outcome of the National Achievement Test is entirely on how students prepared and reviewed for the examinations. The National Achievement Test, is a set of examinations taken by students in Grades 6, 10, and 12. Students are given national standardised test, designed to determine their academic levels, strength and weak-

nesses. Their knowledge learned throughout the year are divided into 5 categories - English, Filipino, Math, Science and Araling Panlipunan or Social Studies and are tested for what they know. The examinations aim to provide empirical information on the achievement level of pupils or students in Grades 6, 10 and 12 to serve as guide for policy makers, administrators, curriculum planners, supervisors, principals and teachers in their respective courses of action. The National Achievement Test also identifies and analyses variations on achievement levels across the years by region, division, school and other variables and determines the rate of improvement in basic education with respect to individual schools within certain time frames.

Since she won the mayoralty race in landslide elections, Mayor Beng has strongly prioritized “Education” along with “Security and Health” not only for the welfare of her constituents, but as a concrete manifestation of her administration’s various pro-poor programs. Mayor Beng also accused Lobregat, who was not born in Zamboanga, for his penchant in making up and fabricating allegations just to be in the media news. Lobregat, she said, is now on “survival mode” and panicking because he knows he will not win in the May 2019 midterm elections. “The people are fed up with him. Lobregat ruled many, many years as congressman and mayor of Zamboanga and what have we achieved, and basically Lobregat use traditional politics and antics to stay in power just like a dictator,” she said. (ZCH)

Hugpong ng Pagbabago clarifies endorsement of local candidates Continued from page 1 This was the advice given by HNP-Davao political officer Jeffrey Tupas, amid a flurry of claims by candidates that they have already secured HNP’s endorsement through Mayor Sara. One such claim was made by Zamboanga City 1st district Rep. Celso Lobregat, of the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bansa (PDP-Laban). According to Lobregat, the endorsement was made during a “luncheon meeting by invitation” on November 9 in a restaurant in Quezon City. The lawmaker said several senatorial candidates and other HNP officials were

present during the event. A news item about the purported article was even published on a local paper in Zamboanga City, in which Lobregat was quoted expressing his gratitude to Sara for the supposed endorsement. The news item even had an accompanying photo with Sara raising the hand of Lobregat. But Tupas said he can’t recall that Sara endorsed Lobregat, and that the lawmaker may have made too much out of the photo opportunity. “I don’t know how a photo can be misconstrued as an endorsement. I believe until it was and explicitly stated that HNP or Mayor Sara has endorsed a can-

didate can we really say an endorsement has been made,” said Tupas, who is also City Hall’s chief information officer. Sara is not a member of any national political party, including the PDP-Laban, of which President Rodrigo Duterte is the national chairman. Even Lobregat’s main opponent, incumbent Zamboanga Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, of the Liberal Party, made light of Lobregat’s supposed endorsement from HNP. “It seems that the congressman has endorsed Mayor Sara Duterte. It seems it’s the other way around,” Salazar said. (Lilian C Mellejor/PNA)


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The Mindanao Examiner

November 19-25, 2018

Smuggled cigarettes seized in Zamboanga Philippine authorities seized some P7 million worth of cigarettes from Sabah in Malaysia as the local government imposed a strict campaign against smuggling here. Coast Guard personnel, backed by soldiers and policemen, confiscated a cargo of 200 boxes of LS and Fort cigarettes from M/V Maria Rebecca Montenegro which arrived here last week. “The joint operation resulted to the successful confiscation of 200 cases of banned tobacco products comprising 150 cases of LS and 50 cases of Fort cigarettes which were concealed at the cargo deck of the vessel and believed to have come from

Tawau (town) in Sabah, Malaysia with an estimated market value of seven million pesos,” said Chief Inspector Helen Galvez, a regional police spokeswoman. She said the contraband is now with the Coast Guard and would be handed over to the Bureau of Customs while police investigation continues to determine the owner of the cargo. Security forces also seized some P3.6 million of smuggled rice at a private wharf here recently. The wharf was just near an outpost of the maritime police, but personnel manning the post failed to detect the arrival of the smuggled rice which, according to Mayor Beng

Climaco, who heads the Regional Peace and Order Council. She called on the maritime police to help in the government’s relentless war on smuggling activities in Zamboanga. “I have called the attention of the agency (maritime police) and I sent a text message to PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde regarding the incident,” she said. She said the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Coast Guard and even the National Bureau of Investigation have been working closely curb smuggling. “The maritime police have yet to do something in this regard,” she said. (ZCH)

Imelda Marcos may be arrested if court issues warrant FORMER FIRST LADY and incumbent Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos, despite her age and health condition, should be arrested if a warrant is issued by the courts over her recent conviction for graft, said Senate President Vicente Sotto. Sotto said the issue on hand is simply whether if a warrant of arrest has been issued and not Marcos’ age or health. “Whether it’s Mrs. Marcos or another person, whether it’s Senator (An-

tonio) Trillanes or whoever it is, the issue is, may warrant ba? Yun ang importante doon, may warrant o wala. Kung may warrant, dapat arestuhin. Kung walang warrant, hintayin natin yung warrant. It’s as simple as that,” Sotto said. The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division found Marcos guilty of seven counts of graft in connection with her financial interests in several Swiss-based foundations while serving in different

official capacities during the Marcos regime. She was sentenced to a minimum of six years and one month to a maximum prison sentence of 11 years “for each count” of graft. Besides the jail sentence, the 89-year old lawmaker is also perpetually disqualified from holding public office. The anti-graft court also ordered the issuance of arrest warrants against Marcos. (Jose Cielito Reganit)


The Mindanao Examiner

November 19-25, 2018

‘Pantawid Pamilya’ beneficiaries to get national cards SOME 7 MILLION Filipinos, who are mostly beneficiaries of the government’s cash transfer program, including indigenous peoples (IPs), will be the initial holders of the national ID. National Statistician and Civil Registrar General of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Lisa Grace Bersales, said the Philippine Identification System Act, which was signed into law on August 6, 2018, establishes a central database for all Filipinos. She said under the 2018 national budget, the national ID system has been allocated a P2-billion fund, which was included in the PSA budget while its funding under the proposed 2019 national budget amounts to P2.1 billion. Bersales said the national ID system “will give dignity to our people. and it is something that we really need to do to our people,” she said, citing that to date, about 7 percent of Filipinos do not have birth

certificates while about 66 percent of deceased Filipinos do not have death certificates. She said most of those who do not have death certificates are Muslims, whose tradition calls for the dead to be buried within 24 hours after death, and those who are living in far-flung areas. She said the national ID system cannot address this issue but it can do something with the issue of having their birth registered. For the implementation of the national ID, Bersales said they are now working with the Philippine Postal Corporation for the proof of concept. “We already have a design of concept. We will test it starting January (2019),” Bersales said, noting that the procurement of the system to be used will be done in June next year, ideally through a competitive bidding, while the roll-out of the IDs will start by September next year or a year after the measure was signed into law.

Bersales said they target to issue IDs to all living Filipinos by 2023. For babies, the National Statistician said they need to be registered while biometrics is eyed to be done when they are already five years old or before they start formal schooling or age of late teens. Bersales also said they plan to do a privacy impact assessment and a vulnerability test while in the process of doing the proof of concept. She added that while “we can never be 100 percent sure” on the security of the national ID, the PSA will work with the Department of Information and Technology, the National Privacy Commission, the National ID Council, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank to ensure that data collected by the agency will be safe. “We are doing our best to do the data privacy by design,” she said, adding that data to be gathered are similar to those asked by social media groups. (Joann Villanueva)

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The Mindanao Examiner

November 19-25, 2018

OPINYON:

Of PNA and Sputnik by Jun Ledesma

WHAT HAS RAPPLER’S Pia Ranada against the Philippine News Agency’s plan of having a sharing arrangement of news and feature articles with Russia’s Sputnik own news agency? For owing so much allegiance to US-based Omidyar Network that invested on Rappler, Ranada cannot keep her bias and prematurely hint that PNA’s idea of exchanging news articles and opinion items with Sputnik is not to the comfort of the Philippines in terms of security. In asserting that Sputnik is part of Russia’s propaganda machine, Rappler only succeeded in resurrecting the scandal involving the role of Omidyar Network (ON) in demonizing and destabilizing the government of Ukraine that led to the overthrow of its President Yanukovych, a pro-Russian leader. ON, if we remember, figured prominently in the scandal involving its substantial dollar investment on Rappler which led to the revocation of its license. This media outfit had paraded as a 100% Filipino corporation but the fact that it

issued Philippine Depository Receipts indicated that ON exercises control on its business and editorial policies. Of course, the easy exit from this tight fix was for ON to waive its PDRs and “donated” them to its Filipino staff. The last thing that Rappler’s Ranada should do therefore is to preach that “there is nothing to gain from this news cooperation except to learn from a country that has succeeded in turning lies into truths…”. Brave words from a social news network that had been involved in spreading preposterous stories involving the Davao Death Squad and super-bloated figures of what it claimed as victims of Extra-Judicial Killings. It is the height of journalistic hubris to suggest that they alone, and not the staff and writers of PNA, have the credentials to take the responsibility of monitoring and identifying what are trolls and fakes in various media platforms. There are a lot of things to know and learn about Russia and this plan of sharing of news and other arti-

cles can only lead to better understanding of the political, economic and social issues surrounding Russia that had been deprived of us until today. From my shortpant days and now when I have few strands of hair left and shaking knees, I remain to be in limbo about what is inside Russia. But yes, last October I made it to St. Petersburg, a Russian City by the Baltic Sea. Stayed in that magnificent city for two days. And I must say that indeed I am quite lucky to have set foot in this cultural, economic and scientific center of Russia. Isn’t it informative if we read stories, see video clips and photos about what’s in Russia and they about the Philippines? We have a lot of things to learn from each other and for as long as the Philippine News Agency will not accept investments from shady source I do not think that news exchanges will have any impact on our security at all. By the way Sputnik news agency has regional offices in Washington, Beijing, Singapore, London Cairo and Edinburgh. So what are we so scared of?

Republic Cement launches initiatives to build a stronger Marawi

Republic Cement turns over Mindanao cement and hollow-block making livelihood kits to its beneficiary organizations representing communities in Marawi. • Republic Cement launched “Mindanao”, a special line of cement dedicated for Bangon Marawi rehabilitation efforts. • Republic Cement also supports rebuilding of lives through donation of hollow-block making livelihood kits to key Marawi communities. November 8, 2018, MARAWI CITY - Republic Cement launched “Mindanao”, a special line of cement to help ensure that supply is ready for the incoming construction requirements to rebuild Marawi. This was held during the “Kawiyagan-Biyaya ng Pagbabago” livelihood turnover activity, wherein the Aboitiz Foundation, together with Pilmico and Republic Cement, launched a number of sustainable livelihood programs for the residents of Sagonsongan Transitory Site. Mindanao is a blended cement Type 1P conforming to Philippine National Standards, exclusively manufactured for “Bangon Marawi”

efforts. The product is less prone to thermal cracking, making it suitable for tropical weather conditions. Furthermore, the product is easy to apply and is compatible with commonly used admixtures, lending it flexibility to be used with other materials. The conflict at Marawi has left many Filipino families wanting for decent shelter and struggling to regain a sense of normalcy and dignity. Ground Zero is left in shambles, and in dire need of rehabilitation and rebuilding. “The development of Mindanao coincides with our thrust for nation-building. Our objective is to build stronger homes and stronger structures for a stronger Marawi,” shares Republic Cement Services, Inc. President Nabil Francis. Apart from promoting quality and locally-made building materials for the rehabilitation of Marawi, Republic Cement donated hollow-block making kits for four cooperatives, namely

May Ginhawa sa Ambolong Producer Cooperative, Guimba Hollowblock Producer Organization, Tapukan Farmers Movement for Progress and Concord Inc., and the Kapamagogopa Multi-Purpose Cooperative. Technical training will be provided to said groups on hollow-block making and product application. The company has also pledged 1,000 bags of Mindanao cement for the rebuilding of structures within Marawi. Said donation is expected to open up employment opportunities for the Maranaos, especially in the communities where displaced families are returning and where rebuilding is taking place. “Many families and communities have been displaced, with devastated homes and no livelihood to return to. Now is the time to rebuild. More than cement supply, we want to help the displaced citizen of Marawi to rebuild their lives,” Francis adds.

OPINYON: THE POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT in Morolandia was rocked by a minor tremor. Its intensity reverberated from the shores of the Sulu Sea to the cramped evacuation shelters of Marawi City. One of its respected leaders questioned the constitutionality of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), a measure long marketed as the sum total of the decades-old aspirations of Moros before the Supreme Court (SC). Abdusakur Tan II is one of the few Moro leaders held in high regard by his peers. His staying political dynastic power is a testament to a peculiar genre of leadership style reminiscent of obeisance accorded to a sultan. His popularity cuts across tribal differences. In fact, he almost scored an upset over the administration-anointed candidate for regional governor if not for the strong and well-oiled (translation: party fund) machinery of the immediate past administration. Our friendship goes decades back and has weathered tribal differences and shifting party affiliation. He is one of the few principled Moro leaders I know who is uncompromising and puts his heart and mind on the principles he believes in. His petition could hardly be understood by people who do not know him, especially those who are pro-BOL who see the measure as a way of freedom from the morass of political and social ails. It came on the heels of the announcement by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that it will launch an information campaign in the run-up to the January plebiscite-ratification of the newly minted BOL. Not that

7 BOL unconstitutional? By Macabangkit B. Lanto they did not expect somebody filing it in the SC but to come from a Moro leader who commands their respect befuddles them. Not a few call him a spoiler which he is not. I was not the least surprised that he filed the petition. He is every inch the man I know and understand where he is coming from. He is just being honest and consistent, having opposed strongly the same measure way back when it was first filed and relentlessly pushed by the past administration not unlike what President Digong is doing now. Moros fear that Sakur is unwittingly playing into the hands of retrogressive oppositors and unrepentant bigots. Ambassador Rafael Seguis, a fellow Mindanaoan, asked me about my take on the issue. I said I have figuratively burned the midnight oil meticulously subjecting the law to a surgeon-like diagnostic scalpel, studying and researching its constitutionality and almost tempted to discuss my position. However, lest I will be cited for contempt, I will shy away from discussing it, being a sub judice issue now that it is before the SC. Political theorists view the Constitution as a living instrument and sometimes by the imperatives of zeitgeist has to yield to the sway and vicissitudes of time and space. It is not an instrument engraved in granite that is immutable. Being conceived as an aid in the preservation and well-being of society, it must not stymie the search for peace, else it will forfeit its raison d’être. For whatever reason,

other than legal, the petition by the patriarch of the Tan political dynasty betrays the deep internecine fractiousness of the Moros. The major tribes claim Maharlika blood in their veins and one cannot stand being subservient to another. The Maranao, Maguindanaoan and Tausug, being proud elite tribes of nobility, disagreement among them is sometimes unavoidable. The petition speaks volume of these tribal differences, peace be damned. And the Tausugs have served notice that they will exercise the “opt-out” privilege granted by the BOL which will exclude them from the coverage of the new Bangsamoro region. In one fell swoop the Sakur petition has shattered the fragile détente that the Digong presidency has been working on between and among the Moro leaders hoping for a united support for the ratification of the BOL. The Sakur petition while subtly wrapped as a constitutional test, unmasked the hard truth that not all is well among its target beneficiaries, the Moros. This poses a challenge to the MILF which is the prime mover and favored beneficiary of the law. They must factor the likes of Sakur in their blueprint preparation for ratification campaign. It’s a wake-up call that the gauntlet towards ratification is strewn with hazards and hurdles. But it is a sad spectacle to see brother Moros fight over something many consider as the Holy Grail that they hope will pave the way for substantive self-rule, if not merdeka. (This opinion piece is published on The Daily Tribune.)

An old woman reads the banner story of the Mindanao Examiner Regionak Newspaper at a mall in Zamboanga City. Many Muslims in the southern Philippine province of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi rejected proposals to be part of a new Muslim autonous region which will be ruled by the rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front which signed an interim peace deal with Manila in 2014. Rival Moro National Liberation Front also rejected the proposals under the Bangsamoro Organic Law which is now being challenged by Sulu province in Supreme Court. (Contributed photo)


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November 19-25, 2018

US returns ‘Bells of Balangiga’ U S Defense Secretary James Mattis formally returned church bells to the Philippines that were taken as war trophies over a century ago following gruesome clashes, seeking to close a contentious chapter in the two allies’ shared history. The decision to return But it has upset some the “Bells of Balangiga” to US veterans and Wyoming the Philippines ends a de- states’s delegation to the US cades-long quest by Ma- Congress, which uniformnila, including by President ly opposed returning bells Rodrigo Duterte, and is ex- that were a memorial to the pected to bolster US-Philip- 45 American soldiers killed pines’ relations. during a surprise attack on

September 28, 1901, in the central town of Balangiga. Two of the three bells have been on display at FE Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming. The third bell is at a US Army museum in South Korea. ‘Bells mark time’ Mattis, speaking at a ceremony at the air force base attended by the Philippines ambassador to the United States, said the Philippines

Apo Cement to lay off workers CEBU CITY - The suspension of Apo Land and Quarry Corp. (ALQC) following the massive landslide in Naga City in September has adversely affect the operations of its mother company, Apo Cement Corp. Apo Cement spokesperson Chito Maniago said the company is now constrained to implement the temporary lay-off of up to 30 percent of its employees and a reduction of around 40 percent of its contractors as a result of the ongoing suspension. Maniago said a formal notice has already been filed with the Department of Labor and Employment in Central Visayas (DOLE7) informing the latter of the company’s decision. However, Apo Cement is still hopeful that the situation in Naga will

improve, and with the support of both the local and national government authorities the ALQC will be allowed to immediately resume its operations and further enable ALQC to restore safety in the critical areas with the approval of its proposed Hazard Reduction Plan. “Apo Cement has been in Cebu for nearly a century already. We have fostered our solidarity and ‘malasakit’ (concern) to our communities for several decades now, but these are extremely challenging times and we need to make these hard decisions,” Maniago said. He said both Apo Cement and ALQC have been helping the Naga city government in providing financial support, food, as well as shelter to the dislocated families and individuals in the different evacuation cen-

ters since the landslide incident. “While we put all efforts in ensuring the needs of the community come first above everything else, and while we have also been very transparent in answering all and any questions, it is unfortunate that some sectors and individuals cast doubt on our integrity, which diverts our attention from the current tasks at hand,” Maniago said. He said Apo Cement is optimistic that all concerned individuals and organizations can focus on doing everything to get Naga back on its feet. Last September 21, Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu ordered the suspension of operations of ALQC a day after the landslide that claimed the lives of 78 people including children. (Luel Galarpe)

has proven itself as a great US ally in conflicts over the century since that clash. He said the sacrifices of US forces would not be forgotten. “To those who fear we lose something by returning these bells, please hear me when I say: Bells mark time, but courage is timeless,” Mattis said. “It does not fade in history’s dimly lit corridors.” In Manila, the Philippines’ foreign affairs department cheered the move. “Today is a time of solemn remembrance as we pay tribute to all those who gave up their lives during the Filipino-American War,” it said. Wyoming’s Congressional delegation, which did not attend the ceremony, issued a terse statement. “We continue to oppose any efforts by the administration to move the bells to

the Philippines without the support of Wyoming’s veterans community,” Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso and Representative Liz Cheney said in statement. All three bells will be restored and handed over to the Philippines as early as December, said Joe Felter, deputy assistant secretary of defence for South and Southeast Asia. ‘Howling wilderness’ The 1901 attack in Balangiga, on the Philippine island of Samar, was seen as perhaps the worst routing of US soldiers since the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, also known as Custer’s Last Stand. According to historians, one or more of the church bells were rung to signal the attack in Balangiga. US forces took the bells after a brutal counter-attack that killed anywhere from

hundreds to thousands of people in the Philippines, historians say. One US general was said to have directed his troops to “make the interior of Samar a howling wilderness”. Some Wyoming veterans, like Cheryl Shannon at Veterans of Foreign Wars, said they were fine with the decision to return the bells. “We’re tired of it always being an issue,” said Shannon, an Iraq war veteran. But Hank Miller, a veteran with the VFW who wanted to keep the bells in Wyoming, said broader support for his position had faded as it became clear Washington would return the bells. “I was advised to ‘stop fighting a losing battle’ and ‘stop beating a dead horse’ as the bells were going back,” Miller said. (Reuters)

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