Monday, September 28, 2015

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/26 Sept) — The Department of Justice has asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the use of discriminatory language on an artist’s sketch of a suspect in the Sept. 18 bombing of a bus in Zamboanga City, by the NBI in Western Mindanao.
On orders of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, DOJ Undersecretary Zabedin Azis directed NBI Director Virgilio Mendez to investigate the use of discriminatory language in the description of a suspect in an artist’s sketch released by NBI Western Mindanao in connection with the Sept. 18bombing of a bus in Zamboanga City that left one person dead and 32 others injured, a Sept. 23 press release from the DOJ said.
NBI Western Mindanao director Fernando Lavin on September 21 apologized to Muslim religious leaders who trooped to the City Hall in Zamboanga City.
Lavin told leaders of the Ulama Council of Zamboanga Peninsula in the conference room of City Hall that he takes full responsibility for what happened and that he intends to raise the matter during conferences by the NBI to aid authorities in future investigations.
Lavin told leaders of the Ulama Council of Zamboanga Peninsula in the conference room of City Hall that he takes full responsibility for what happened and that he intends to raise the matter during conferences by the NBI to aid authorities in future investigations.
De Lima said the DOJ “does not allow or tolerate discrimination against any group or sector of society, including Muslim Filipinos,” adding that profiling would “violate not only the equal protection clause of our Constitution but also our commitments under international law.”
She stressed that the Philippines is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which requires that countries respect human rights without distinction of any kind. The Covenant also prohibits discrimination on such grounds as race, religion, political opinion or national origin. - From mindanews.com

Murad: “Whatever happens to the BBL we should accept as the will of Allah”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 27 Sept) – The chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has issued an appeal “to everyone to hold fast to the Peace Process” even amid “trying times and enormous challenges,” particularly because chances of passing a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that adheres to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed by the Philippine government (GPH) and the MILF are “gradually diminishing as time passes by.”
“Whatever happens to the BBL, we should accept as the will of Allah” who “will decide and grant us what is best for us in this World and the Hereafter,” MILF peace panel chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said.
MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim discusses scenarios on the peace process in an interview on August 25, 2015. MIndaNews file photo by TOTO LOZANO[/caption]
Murad issued the appeal in his September 24 “Message of Solidarity and Unity to the Bangsamoro People, the Filipino People and Muslim Ummah” on the occasion of Eid’l Adha (also spelled as Eid-ul Adha or “Eid’ul Adzha”)
Eid’l Adha, the Islamic feast of Sacrifice, was celebrated on September 24 although Malacanang declared the holiday on September 25.
“We appeal to everyone to hold fast to the Peace Process, continue our arduous journey for peace and development and exhaust all means to achieve our aspiration for genuine, just, lasting and dignified peace and sustainable development in the Bangsamoro and the whole of the country,” he said, adding, “we have already travelled a long way and invested immeasurable efforts to attain our cherished objective.” - From mindanews.com

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Mother of conjoined twins seeks help for babies’ operation

DATU HOFER, Maguindanao (MindaNews/23 September) – A mother who gave birth last week to conjoined twins has asked for help for an operation that would separate her babies.
Mimi Sabpa, of Barangay Limpongo, Datu Hofer town, gave birth to twin girls on Sept. 17 through caesarian delivery at the Maguindanao Provincial Hospital. Their stomachs and organs are attached to each other.

Sabpa knew she has conjoined twins during a “Kalusugang Pangkalahatan” activity when the provincial medical facility was inaugurated two weeks ago. There Provincial Health Officer Dr. Tahir Sulaik advised her to undergo caesarian procedures to ensure her safety and that of the babies.
She said that during her three previous pregnancies she never went to a hospital as she could not afford it. She said a midwife attended to her deliveries at home.
Sulaik said the conjoined babies were confirmed after an ultra-sound procedure.
He said he was happy the condition of the twins was discovered early because it would be too risky for both the mother and the babies if the delivery was done at home with a midwife.
“This is the first time I performed CS procedures for conjoined babies,” Sulaik said of his 40-year service at the provincial hospital.
“Our villagers are now aware of the government’s services. With PhilHealth ready to assist, patients are no longer hesitant to visit the hospital without worrying on the expenses,” he added.
The twins were named Sittie and Hawa by Sabpa and her husband, Jerry. - From mindanews.com


Authorities have no clue yet on group behind Samal kidnapping

ISLAND GARDEN CITY OF SAMAL (MindaNews/24 Sept) — The joint military and police forces have not established the identity of the group that abducted three foreigners and a Filipina at Holiday Oceanview Samal Resort here nearly midnight Monday.
In a press briefing at the Police Regional Office (PRO) 11 on Wednesday, Chief Supt. Federico Dulay, Jr., chief of the Special Investigation Task Group Ocean View said they are trying to establish the group’s identity by comparing its tactics with the modus operandi of other groups who previously figured in kidnapping incidents.
He added that it is not conclusive that the rebel group New Peoples Army (NPA) was behind the incident just because of a note that was left at the gate of the resort, treating this as a possible diversionary tactic by the group who was behind the kidnapping.

Yachts dock at Holiday Oceanview in Barangay Camudmud, Island Garden City of Samal two days after three foreign nationals and a Filipina were abducted at the resort, Monday evening in this photo taken on September 23, 2015. One of the guests is Canadian national John Ridsdel who is the president of TVI Minerals Processing Incorporated. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano
“The NPA is part of the investigation but we are also investigating other groups,” he said.
The NPA usually issues formal statements if it has perpetrated an act.
“There are so many groups, maybe gangs in other areas. We are consolidating all our efforts that will lead to the identification of the group,” he said.
A composite sketch was released Wednesday, describing one of the suspects as male, between 25 to 30 years old, medium built, dark, and between 5’2 to 5’3 in height, based on the description given by couple Steven and Kazuka Tripp who managed to jump off the yacht after resisting the kidnappers. - From mindanews.com

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Duterte urges daughter Sara to run for mayor

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 September) — Four weeks before the filing of certificates of candidacy for the 2016 elections, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte appealed to daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio to consider running for mayor.
“To my mind, si Inday naay (Inday Sara has) experience and she has the mindset that can carry the city for another so many years,” Duterte said in his weekly program “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” on Sunday.
He added his daughter has yet to decide but added “Inday (Duterte-Carpio) has been consistent in the refusal just like me in the presidency. Inday should ponder on it. Do not be in a hurry.”
The younger Duterte served as mayor from July 2010 to June 2013. Her father served as vice mayor during the same period after ending a second 9-year term as mayor.
The filing of COCs will be from October 12 to 16, 2015.
Asked by TV host Geraldine Tiu who would he field just in case Sara decided not to run, the mayor insisted his daughter should run.
“Bakakon si Inday, dili sya tiguwang (Inday is a liar, she is not old) She is not 70 years old. Physically, she can still be of service to the people,” he said.
He even said that his time to retire has come after serving as government prosecutor for 10 years and city mayor for 22 years.
Duterte first became mayor from 1988 to 1998. He served as representative of the first district from 1998 to 2001 and as mayor again from 2001 to 2010.
In 2013, he was elected mayor for the seventh time with son Paolo as vice mayor.
Duterte added he wanted to have a good transition from his term to the next.
“Ang ako is the bridging, we do not intend to stay there. One day, I will die. One day, ang mga Duterte mawala yan (Dutertes will be gone) just like other ruling political families here. We know that’s reality of our planet,” he added.
Earlier, his son Paolo said he would not run for any higher position next year if Sara and brother Sebastian would also run. Sebastian has been asked by some in the private sector to run as the city’s third district representative.
“Puno na kaayo og Duterte ang syudad sa Davao… didto nalang ko sa ako barangay (Davao City is already full of Dutertes… I’d rather go back to my barangay),” Paolo said.
With regard to the 2016 slate of Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod (Hugpong), he said some slots will be left vacant by councilors whose terms end next year.
He added Gabriela Partylist Rep. Luz Ilagan is joining the Hugpong slate for next year’s election.
Ilagan served as city councilor before winning a seat in the House of Representatives. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews) - From mindanews.com 

Butuan university to host peace confab for academics

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/22 September) – Caraga region’s top university will host a peace conference among schools and universities across the country to get perspectives from scholars and academicians on the question of peace.
Rev. Father Randy Jasper Odchigue, Father Saturnino Urios University vice president for Academic Affairs and chair of the conference, said the Creating Spaces for Peace in Mindanao Conference will take place on No. 25 and they expect around 500 participants.
“We came up with the idea since we felt that the university has its responsibility in contributing towards peace building and conflict transformation,” he explained.
He noted that there have been many peace summits and conferences organized by nongovernment organizations and government bodies but only a few that were academic in nature.
“Our activity’s goal here is to explore frameworks on how to move forward and look for better alternatives and possibilities that would help promote peace from the perspective of the academe,” Odchigue said.
“The schedule of the event also coincides with the Mindanao Week of Peace. Before, the rule of the university was to serve as support to the diocese on the week of peace activity but now we felt that we can also do something bigger as an academe, so we came up with this conference,” he said.
“As far as we know, there have not been enough venues for discussions or scholarly study on the academe perspective on peace, so I hope this event would shed a different light on the issues covering conflict especially here in Mindanao,” said Rev. Father John Christian Young, FSUU president.
“This academic conference is also inviting scholars from all over the Philippines to present papers on peace covering the entirety of it aspects,” Young said.
He said the conference will tackle topics ranging from resource-based conflicts to the Bangsamoro question as well as, culture and inter-religious dialogue.
He added the event is significant given the conflicts all over Mindanao including Caraga region.
The conference keynote speakers are Jurgette Honculada, a former member of the GPH peace panel in talks with the NDF, and book author and anthropologist Brother Karl Gaspar, CSsR. (Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews) - From mindanews.com

‘Reds collect P1.3B revolutionary taxes in Eastern Mindanao’

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/22 September)—An international peace group has revealed that businesses in Eastern Mindanao alone, a region with a strong mining industry, have allegedly lost at least P1.3 billion in “revolutionary taxes” to communist rebels last year.
International Alert, citing confidential sources, disclosed the figureon Saturdayon the heels of the group’s call for the government to restart peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to avoid further economic as well as human losses.
Judy Gulane, International Alert Philippines communication specialist, said: “We continue to work with the UP (University of the Philippines) School of Economics in coming up with an estimate of the economic cost of the communist insurgency, then we will present this to the government,” she said.
In Davao City last week, International Alert called on the government to quickly reopen peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, CCP’s political wing, noting that businesses and local government units caught in the conflict have reported mounting economic and human losses.
“The government, together with those sectors directly affected by the conflict should work hand in hand to end the communist insurgency at the soonest possible time,” Francisco J. Lara Jr., country manager of International Alert, said in a statement.
This should be pursued even as the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front had struck a political settlement, he added.
Lara said the communist insurgency in the country, considered as the longest running communist insurgency in Asia, is exacting a higher toll than the Moro rebellion.
The communist rebellion ran longer and is affecting more provinces in the country, he said, stressing that in Mindanao, “it is a scourge in the Caraga Region, the Davao provinces and Compostela Valley.”
“Companies in these provinces are forced to pay millions in “revolutionary taxes” and have seen many of their facilities and equipment destroyed,” Lara said.
He added that “local governments cannot attract investments and tourists that should have boosted the local economy,” apparently due to the security risk posed by the communist insurgency.
The Aquino government has made several attempts since 2010 to restart peace negotiations with the communist rebels.
Informal talks last year were aimed at resuming formal negotiations but these eventually collapsed.
By focusing attention on the impact of the communist insurgency on business and local communities, International Alert said it hopes the government will exert more vigor and urgency in reviving talks with the communist rebels.
Local government officials and executives from agribusiness, mining and other industrial companies operating in the region attended the Davao forum last week. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews) - From mindanews.com

Friday, September 18, 2015

Surigao Sur under state of calamity

TANDAG CITY, Philippines  – The provincial government of Surigao del Sur has declared a state of calamity due to the influx of lumads to this city, following the killing of their leaders by an armed group claiming to be anti-communist.
The lumads have been staying at the provincial sports complex arena since Sept. 1.
The declaration was contained in Resolution No. 076, which was passed by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in a regular session on Wednesday.
Gov. Johnny Pimentel said the declaration was made after villagers from five towns fled their homes on Aug. 9 due to the killing of two of their leaders in San Miguel.
“This was followed on Sept. 1 when two more lumad leaders and a chief of a tribal school were killed in Lianga town,” Pimentel said.
Provincial administrator Efren Rivas said three other Surigao del Sur towns were affected by the lumad unrest and evacuation.
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 Rivas said the province is running out of relief goods and funds to assist the evacuees. He said their stock is good only until Sept. 21. - From philstar.com 

SC disqualifies Lanao mayor over citizenship

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has disqualified a municipal mayor in Lanao del Norte for being an American citizen.
In a recent decision penned by Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, the high court affirmed the December 2013 ruling of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) disqualifying Kauswagan Mayor Rommel Arnado in the 2013 elections.
The high court said Arnado continued using his American passport even after renouncing his US citizenship in 2009 to run for mayor in 2010.
It dismissed Arnado’s petition and lifted the status quo ante order it earlier issued to stop the Comelec order.
In its ruling, the SC said “only natural-born Filipinos who owe total and undivided allegiance to the country could run for and hold elective posts.”
The SC allowed Arnado’s rival, Florante Capitan, to assume the post, although there are only nine months left in the term.
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The high court also disqualified Arnado in the 2010 elections for the same circumstance. The decision came out in April 2013. - From philstar.com

Lawmaker appeals for understanding on BBL deliberations

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Zamboanga first district Rep. Celso Lobrega  appealed for understanding  from staunch supporters of the controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) who demonized his image and labeled him as “peace spoiler” while trying to uphold the constitution.
Lobregat said he saw the article Tuesday when supporters of the BBL marched in Marawi and demonized a tarpaulin with his picture, together with Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his father, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
Lobregat said supporters have to understand that legislators like him only attend to issues, emphasizing that “nothing is personal.”
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“Actually, I am for peace, I’m not anti-peace but we need a BBL that is just, that is fair, feasible, acceptable and more importantly consistent with the constitution and existing laws,” Lobregat said in reaction to the tirade received from staunch supporters of the MILF and the BBL.
Lobregat said if they were doing their job by questioning several provisions which were described to be unconstitutional, contrary to the existing laws. It is their duty to uphold and defend the constitution as they have sworn allegiance to the Philippine laws. - From philstar.com

Monday, September 14, 2015

US-based NGO wants to help Mindanao farmers

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 13 Sept) – A United States-based non-government organization is seeking to further strengthen the organized farmers, cooperatives, and associations in Mindanao in a bid to improve post-harvest management and quality of cacao, coconut, and coffee.
The Agricultural Cooperative Development International/Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance (ACDI/VOCA) rolled out its new program called Mindanao Productivity in Agricultural Commerce and Trade (MINPACT), a four-year program launched in September 2014 until September 2018.
In an interview Friday at the SMX Convention Center Davao, Thelonioius S. Trimmel, chief of party for MINPACT of ACDI/VOCA, said at least 10,600 farmers are seen to benefit from this new program that is expected to receive $8 million the from US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Around 600 value chain actors composed of providers, traders and financial institutions will also be tapped, he said.
“We are working full-value chain, focusing on production, establishment of nurseries and ensuring good planting material, farm-level training and cooperative-level training,” Trimmel said.
Even the value chain actors will be strengthened to ensure that they would extend the best services, most especially to the cacao sector which has an annual domestic demand of 50,000 metric tons.
The country can only produce 10,000 MT a year, with 70 percent of its total production coming from the Davao Region.
Trimmel emphasized the need to support the farmers so that they can reach new markets.
The ACDI/VOCA, he added, has already signed a memorandum of understanding with identified partner cooperatives or associations.
“With the MOU, we identified what types of activities that we’re gonna be working on,” he said.
The training program includes strengthening their capacity as well as beefing up their knowledge on the opportunities for cacao, coffee, and coconut.
The NGO will also extend between $1 million to $2 million worth of grants to farmers for the procurement of equipment and the implementation of some services.
“In this case, initial grants will be focused on establishing nurseries and beneficiary organizations, purchase of equipment and farming materials for the establishment of those nurseries,” Trimmel said.
He said they are eyeing to increase the production of coconut, cacao, and coffee before they will put up more processing facilities.
He added some of the processing facilities established under previous programs such as Success Alliance and CoCopal Project are underutilized for lack of production.
“Biggest issue facing the three commodities is the demand outstretches the supply, there’s not enough supply of coconut, cacao and coffee. We need to plant more all of those tree commodities and ensure good quality, good processing, and good management,” Trimmel said.
Among the production facilities under MINPACT include fermentation tanks and solar dryers.
Most of the farmers who will benefit from MINPACT are coconut and cacao farmers, composed of 7,800 of the 10,600 farmers, he said, adding that they are pushing for the intercropping of both crops.
Support will also be extended to coconut farmers who need to replant old senile trees. - From mindanews.com

Rufus to run for Cagayan de Oro mayor

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 13 Sept) – Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District) is running for mayor of this city in the May 2016 elections.
“Cagayan de Oro will have a three-cornered fight for mayor. They have to decide which one of us should lead the city,” said Rodriguez, who is on his third term as congressman.
Rodriguez, who gained national prominence as chair of the House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, timed the announcement of his candidacy for the top post on his 62nd birthday on Sunday.
“We want to give the people of Cagayan de Oro a better choice,” said Rodriguez.
The announcement marked the end of his alliance with Mayor Oscar Moreno and Rep. Rolando “Klarex” Uy (1st District).
Rodriguez will run under the Centrist Democratic Party which, he said, will field a full slate – mayor, vice mayor, and 16 councilors.
He said the party will hold a convention here on September 27, where they will also announce the slate.
Among the barangay captains who already signified their support to Rodriguez is Barangay Lapasan Chair Omar Labuntog, who said at least 25 village chiefs are supporting Rodriguez.
Labuntog said he expects other barangay captains to support them.
Mayor Moreno was not available for comment but his spokesperson, Maricel Casino Rivera, said they understand the decision of Rodriguez.
“It was a political alliance. Something is bound to happen to it especially in the world of politics,” she said.
Rivera said they stand on the exemplary performance of the Moreno administration despite the unreasonable budgetary controls made by the PaDayon Pilipino-controlled City Council.
Former mayor Vicente Emano of the PaDayon Pilipino is reportedly going to run again against Moreno. Emano lost to Moreno in the 2013 polls.
Councilor Ramon Tabor, who will run as representative for the 2nd District of Cagayan de Oro under PaDayon Pilipino, welcomed Rodriguez’ announcement to run for mayor.
He said Rodriguez’s running will favor PaDayon Pilipino candidates because the voters loyal to Rodriguez and Moreno will be divided while those in their party will remain solid.
“Our supporters are solidly behind us while we see theirs being fragmented,” he said.
Emano’s political camp claims at least 54 barangay chairs on their side.
Cagayan de Oro City has 80 barangays. - From mindanews.com

Duterte lashes back at veteran journo, denies having cancer

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 13 Sept) – Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte lashed back at the veteran journalist and at the same time denied the latter’s Facebook post stating that the mayor has cancer of the throat.
In his television program “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” on Sunday, Duterte called Philip Lustre Jr. (Philip Jr Lustre on Facebook) as “mentally impotent” for coming up with the post that having suffered from “throat cancer” was the mayor’ reason why he is not for president in the 2016 elections.
“You are suffering from mental impotence. You have to see a doctor sa tinuod lang (to tell you the truth). You are a journalist… in your caliber, your English is acceptable, tolerable grammar (but) there’s something wrong in your mind. You’re mentally impotent, it’s not really working,” Duterte said.
Duterte advised Lustre to look for a lawyer.
But when asked by TV host Lawyer Geraldine Tiu if he is taking any legal action, he said, “What can you do with a mentally impotent? Dili man pud na dawaton sa korte (The court cannot accept that). Mo-ingon man ng korte (The court will just tell you) he cannot defend himself. May deperensya ang ulo (He is mentally incapacitated).”
Duterte even challenged the journalist to check on his medical records to find out that his “throat is okay, including my tongue.”
In his Facebook post on Friday, Lustre claimed that he received an information about Duterte’s real health condition from a reliable source, who was not in authority to speak on the matter.
“Just yesterday, somebody leaked the information to me that Davao City Rodrigo Duterte has cancer of the throat. He was not playing close-open type of politics when he said he could not decide to run for the presidency in 2016. In fact, he was dead-sure he would not run for any post in 2016, but instead retire,” he said.
Lustre added that “[Duterte’s] family is strongly against any presidential run for him because the nationwide political campaign would exacerbate his throat cancer. His health condition could cascade to terminal stage.”
Lustre also stated that Duterte admitted his physical condition in a roundtable discussion with journalists of ABC-5 last Tuesday, a day after he categorically announced that he was not running for the country’s highest position or any elective posts in the government in next year’s elections and that he is retiring from public service.
“Somebody in the audience asked Duterte why he was frequently holding the left side of his jaw and neck. Duterte made reference to his health situation cascading from Stage One to Stage Four without categorically saying that he has the Big C,” he said.
What Duterte did not deny is that he has been suffering from Buerger’s disease, a condition caused by “inflammation and thrombosis in small and medium-sized blood vessels, typically in the legs and leading to gangrene.”
He said he developed the condition by getting too much nicotine out of smoking. He said it was the same reason why he implemented the smoking ban in the city to protect “all of you, including our children.”
Lustre’s post also claimed that he “likewise referred to the unhealthy situation of his spine” since this can result to “bigger issues and proportions.” -From mindanews.com

Friday, September 11, 2015

PH budget transparency, 64; Congress budget oversight, 36

THE PHILIPPINES scored 64, on a scale of 0 to 100, for transparency of eight budget documents in the latest Open Budget Survey (OBS) 2015, a report on 102 countries in the world.
This piece of good news comes, however, with findings of weakness in budget oversight by the Philippine Congress, which got a dismal 36 points.
Yet still, budget oversight by the Commission on Audit got a 92-point score, while public participation, 67, one of the highest in the world.
The new Philippine rating, for transparency of budget documents, a 16-point growth from 48 in 2012, puts the country in the top tier of 24 nations that provide substantial budget information to citizens.
The only independent, comparative, and regular measure of global budget transparency and accountability conducted every two years by independent civil society researchers, the OBS is a project of the International Budget Partnership (IBP) based in Washington, DC.
The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) has served as country researcher for the OBS since 2008. Karol Ilagan and Charmaine P. Lirio of PCIJ did research for the Philippines for OBS 2015.
The OBS does not reflect opinion but measures observable facts using 140 indicators, according to a standard research methodology.
OBS 2015 Is the fifth to be released by IBP since 2006. It now covers 102 countries that are home to about 90 percent of the world’s population.
Not an opinion poll
The OBS uses documented evidence and objective criteria “to evaluate the extent to which national or central governments in 102 countries provide the public with timely and comprehensive access to eight key budget documents required by international good practices.”
The OBS also examines “the ability of legislatures and supreme audit institutions to provide effective oversight of government budgets and opportunities for the public to participate in the budget process.”
The OBS is not an opinion poll or a measure of perceptions. It is based instead on a rigorous, objective methodology subject to independent review.
Researchers were trained in the OBS methodology and required to test budget transparency in practice, visit with government offices to check compliance with publication deadlines, and interview key informants.
Documented evidence, including citation of a law, interview, a copy of a document, were required to back up the researchers’ answers to the questionnaire. - From mindanews.com

Wanted: ship for Mindanao-Sulawesi trade

GENERAL SANTOS CITY(MindaNews/10 September)— Direct trade exchange between Mindanao and North Sulawesi in Indonesia remains stalled due to the lack of cargo vessel to service the shipping lane.
Rey Billena, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry governor for Southwestern Mindanao, revealed that they are looking for investors to provide the cargo vessel after Indonesia barred its boat to ply the Davao-General Santos-Bitung route.
He said the Indonesian Consulate in Davao informed them that Jakarta objected to utilizing the vessel given to Talaud Island, as agreed earlier, to service the two BIMP-EAGA areas.
BIMP EAGA stands for Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area, a cooperation formed in 1994 to accelerate the growth of less developed areas of the participating member countries. Mindanao and Palawan in Luzon are the Philippines’ focus area for BIMP-EAGA.
“The vessel was acquired 20 years ago by the Indonesian government for Talaud Island to ferry its constituents. Also, there’s difficulty in converting it (into a cargo vessel),” Billena said in an interview on Wednesday.
He did not give a definite date when the Mindanao-North Sulawesi trade could begin, noting the lack of ship to service it even as he claimed that the “Philippine side is ready for its part of the action.”
Billena, one of the local business leaders actively involved in working to start the trade exchange between Mindanao and North Sulawesi, said they are hoping to find investors who can provide the ship to ply the route soon.
The shipping route needs a vessel with a gross register tonnage of 2,500, or one that can carry 120 container vans, he said.
The Davao-General Santos-Bitung sea route, which was supposed to start June last year, seeks to enhance connectivity to boost trade exchange in the BIMP-EAGA.
Billena said that the Davao-General Santos-Bitung sea route, whose servicing is also strongly pushed by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), would significantly reduce the cost of transporting goods between these points.
Currently, products from North Sulawesi going to the cities of Davao or General Santos have to pass through Jakarta and Manila, and vice versa.
Billena said producers could save as much as “40 percent in logistical expenses and 60 percent in travel lead time” with the Davao-General Santos-Bitung route.
General Santos and Bitung are just 350 nautical miles apart, he said.
Secretary Luwalhati Antonino, MinDA chair, said the direct shipping route can offer savings of as much as US$1,650 per 20-foot container for traders.
Citing a study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, shipping rate for the Davao-General Santos-Bitung route would cost only US$550 per 20-foot container, she said.
The agreement to operationalize the Mindanao-North Sulawesi shipping service was sealed in Jakarta in April 2014 by the representatives of the Indonesian shipping line PT Kanaka, the North Minahasa Chamber of Commerce of Indonesia, Philippine-based cargo company ARREE Freight Express and the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews) - From  mindanews.com

Australian national arrested at Davao airport for carrying gun

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 Sept) – An Australian national in  possession of a disassembled firearm was arrested at 11 a.m. on Thursday at the F. Bangoy International airport.
Authorities identified the suspect as Ian Maxwell. The 58-year old Maxwell has been staying in the city for two weeks and was bound for Manila when he was caught bringing an unlicensed .38 caliber pistol in his luggage after it passed through the Initial Security Screening Checkpoint (ISSCP)’s Xray machine.
Police authorities prevented the suspect from boarding Philippine Airlines flight no. PR816 and brought him to the Sasa Police Station.
Maxwell told the police that the confiscated firearm was his collection of antique items.
Chief Insp. Milgrace Driz, spokesperson for the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) said that they will investigate the suspect to check if he is involved in any crime in the city.
The suspect is faced with charges for violation of the Republic Act (RA) 10591, otherwise known as Comprehensive Firearm and Ammunition Regulation Act.
Under Section 31 of RA 10591, anyone caught carrying a firearm without permit to carry outside of residence will be penalized by  “prision correccional” (from six months and one day to six years),  and fined P10,000. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews) - From mindanews.com

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Artist-Cultural Worker is Chief Security Officer

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews / 09 Sept) — When Leonardo “Dodong” Baldoviso interpreted in a dance Joey Ayala’s “Haring Ibon” during the Bislig City Employees’ Night in September last year, the audience watching him perform onstage was glued and silent and unbelieving.
Dodong does not fit the stereotype of a performing artist, choreographer-director and theater practitioner more than a battle-ready security force. Dodong, in fact, is Chief Security Officer of the close-in security group of Mayor Librado Navarro of Bislig City, Surigao del Norte. With Dodong are soldiers detailed to the mayor, but he enjoys the trust and confidence of the mayor who personally picked him.
Unknown to Mayor Navarro, Dodong is a trained theater artist and cultural worker honed in cultural work by EDCADS (Educational Discipline in Culture and Area-based Development Services, Inc.), a cultural institution set up in Butuan City in 1986.
“I was 16 when I joined a community theater workshop and pursued it because it developed my sense of creativity.” He eventually started directing and organizing cultural performances and events. His endearment to Mindanawon dramaturgy deepened as he constantly connected with colleagues and mentors, the likes of Richard Belar, Popong Landero and Titing Trinquite.
When he started working in government, cultural work took a back seat. “Not everyone knew I was in cultural work, directing small plays, musicals and street dances. It was a job but not a full time work.” Then he became Mayor Navarro’s spokesperson, handling a daily radio program and attending to security matters. “My training in theater and cultural work made it easier for me to tackle jobs assigned to me, like a role I have to play.”
His “Haring Ibon” performance gave his colleagues in City Hall a glimpse of what he is made of: a no-nonsense artist behind the security force. But it also left suspicions and teasing. “Everybody was asking, including the mayor and his lady, if I am gay. But I told them I am straight.”
Dodong is devoted to his wife and is a pampering father to his two children. He met his wife when she asked him to train her for a talent piece in the beauty pageant she joined.
“I am not bothered at all what they think and that was long ago. Now, no one talks about it. The men in my security unit would even tell me I can do better than other performances done by other directors or choreographers.”
His colleagues in the cultural work in Mindanao recognize and admire his undying passion for the creative expression. “Dodong is like the silent water running deep, always consistent, always loyal to cultural work,” says Greggo Uriarte of Surigao city, poet and playwright and development worker.
Dodong’s currently engrossed with Katinag (Kanato Tinuy-an Artistic Group), a theater company  composed of City Hall employees which he organized recently.
It is important for him that the group understands and experiences theater as a means of  creative expression not just for entertainment but as a means of raising consciousness. -From mindanews.com

4-year old Lumad bakwit dies; House, Senate urge probe on Lumad killings

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 09 Sept) – The House of Representatives and the Senate have filed separate resolutions to investigate the recent killing of Lumads (Indigenous Peoples), the displacement of hundreds of residents in some towns in Surigao del Sur that led to the death of a four-year old evacuee.
“A four year old child has died in the evacuation center yet no action is being taken by the national government to facilitate the Lumads’ return,” Gabriela partylist Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan said in a statement released Wednesday.
Eliza Pangilinan, secretary-general of Karapatan-Caraga told MindaNews Wednedsay night that four-year old Merabel Enriquez, a Lumad from Magkahunaw, Barangay Buhisan in San Agustin town suffered a severe asthma attack at the evacuation center in the sports center in Tandag on Tuesday, was rushed to the hospital but expired there.
Pangilinan said the Enriquez family arrived at the sports center in Tandag City on September 2.
TENT BREAKFAST. Displaced villagers from barangay Diatagon, Lianga town in Surigao del Sur eat their breakfast under the tent at the sports center turned evacuation area in Tandag City, September 4, 2015. MindaNews photo by Erwin Mascarinas[/caption]
At the Senate, Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities, filed Senate Resolution 1575 urging the Senate to conduct an investigation into this “possible case of extrajudicial killings, and on the continued existence of paramilitary groups which I believe must be immediately reviewed and disbanded.
“This situation of Lumads being harassed, killed and displaced will turn into a humanitarian crisis, if the national government does not intervene,” she warned in a press statement issued Wednesday.
“I seek justice for the death of our Lumad leaders. Harassment of indigenous communities in Mindanao must stop,” she said.
At the House of Representatives, House Resolution 2358, introduced last Monday, directed the Committee on Human Rights to “conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, into the extrajudicial killings” of the executive director of an alternative learning center and two others in Lianga, Surigao del Sur on September 1, “allegedly perpetrated by members of the Philippine Army and a paramilitary group.”
Killed were Emerito Samarca, 54, Executive Director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (Alcadev); Dionel Campos, chair of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU), and Campos’ cousin, Aurelio Sinzo.
According to the report of Karapatan-Caraga, Samarca was found dead with a stab wound and a slit open throat inside one of the classrooms of Alcadev in Sitio Han-ayan, Barangay Diatagon in Lianga, while Campos and Sinzo were reported killed in front of residents rounded up by the perpetrators.
Witnesses pointed to members of the Magahat-Bagani Force, a paramilitary group composed of Lumads and believed to be organized and supported by the military, as the culprits. -From mindanews.com

P260-B for Mindanao under PNoy, twice the amount allocated by Erap and GMA

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/09 September) – The Aquino administration has allotted P260 billion for Mindanao in five years, twice the P130 billion combined allocation by former Presidents Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (1998 to 2010), outgoing Local Governments Secretary Mar Roxas, the Liberal Party’s Presidential candidate for 2016, said.
“Under former President Erap who served for nearly three years (1998 to January 2001), the capital outlay for Mindanao was only P25 billion while under Arroyo (who served) nine years (2001 to 2010), the total capital outlay was P105 billion,” he told the “Gathering of Friends” Wednesday at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City attended by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, Cabinet secretaries and some 1,800 guests from all over Mindanao, including mayors and governors and representatives of civil society, many of them wearing yellow.
Roxas said what they envisioned for the country when Aquino administration took over in 2010 is slowly turning into reality.
“Pwede na tayong mangarap and nakikita natin ay pagbabago,” (We can dream again and we can see change), he said, adding “what we fight for is not for ourselves but for the future of our country.”
President Aquino said Roxas will continue the developments that he has already started.
“Simula pa lang po ito (We have just started),” Aquino said.
Roxas, who resigned on Monday as secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government, gave up his Presidential ambition six years ago to give way to Aquino, who became a popular choice for President following the death of his mother, former President Corazon Aquino, in August 2009. Roxas ran for Vice President but lost to Jejomar Binay, who is also running for President in 2016.
Aquino reiterated earlier statements that Mindanao can help spur development in the country once peace is attained, citing the island’s strategic location in trading with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and even Australia.
He also highlighted the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as the means to unlock the potential of Mindanao as it would bridge the country to the neighboring economic powers.
The President also spoke of his administration’s achievements, including the expansion of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, also known as Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), and the improved placement rate of vocational graduates of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) under Secretary Joel Villanueva.
“Hindi naman siguro kayo pupunta dito kung hindi kayo kumbinsido (You will not come here if you are not convinced),” he said.
Under the 4Ps, government scholars have reached 300,000 under his administration, 13,000 of whom have finished high school and college with honors.
“Ilang politiko sa buhay nyo ang nangako pero napapako” (How many politicians have promised you but failed to fulfill the promise), he asked.
Aquino also graced the inauguration of Camudmud section of the Island Garden City of Samal circumferential road. -From mindanews.com

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Davao City gov’t asked to build incubation center for inventors

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 September) — An inventor yesterday called on the city government to put up an incubation center where the start-ups can turn their ideas into working prototypes.
In an interview, Virgilio Sangutan, president of Davao Inventors Association (DIA), such facility should be built in Davao City to give professional and budding inventors a space where they can do research and development to improve on their ideas.
He said the DIA, which has around 30 active members, sought the help of the city council two years ago but the local government could not provide a lot for the center.
Sangutan said the facility would cost at least P10 million.
He lamented that out of the P20-billion budget of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) only P2 million to P3 million was allocated for inventors. From research to development, each inventor needs at least P500,000, he said.
The Philippines ranked 100th in the Global Innovation Index, he noted.
He said what most inventors do is to do the incubation by themselves.
Sangutan said other countries hold their inventors in high regard, making them consultants on transportation and poverty alleviation.
He said it is best to construct the facility near the Mindanao Science and Technology Centrum in Bago Oshiro, Tugbok, this city.
DOST 11 is reviving the centrum. It was opened in 1986 until mid-2000 when it started getting few visitors.
“This kind of establishment helps teachers impart science and math. We rely too much on books and television,” Sangutan said.
DOST 11 is holding the Science on the Go on September 23 to October 23 at the centrum. The exhibit will feature 31 interactive exhibits for young students.
“The exhibit aims to excite young minds to learn more about science and how it works in order to improve the quality of life,” the DOST said in a statement.
DOST 11 also announced that it is accepting entries for the Regional Invention Contest and Exhibit 2015 until September 28, 2015.
There are six categories; Outstanding Invention (Tuklas Award), Outstanding Unit Model, Outstanding Industrial Design, Outstanding Creative Reasearch (Likha Award), Outstanding Student Creative Research (Sibol Award) for high school students, Outstanding Student Creative Research (Sibol Award) for college students.
Cash prizes also await winners of RICE 2015 in all six categories.
For Outstanding Invention, 1st placer will take home P50,000, second placer P30,000, and third placer P20,000.
Winners of Outstanding Utility Model and Outstanding Industrial Design will bag P25,000 for 1st place, P10,000 for 2nd place, and P5,000 for 3rd place.
Winners of Outstanding Creative Research, Outstanding Student Creative Reaserch for High School and College will receive P20,000 for 1st place, P10,000 for 2nd place, and P5,000 for 3rd place. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews) -From mindanews.com

Duterte ends speculations; says he’s not running for president

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 September) — Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte apologized to his supporters on Monday after declaring he would not run for president in next year’s elections.
Ending months of waiting and speculations as to his political plans, Duterte told media at the Grand Men Seng Hotel that his family disapproved of his running for the country’s highest position.
“I would like to categorically state now (to end) the agony of those who are waiting na hindi ako tatakbo ng presidente. Wala akong ambition maging presidente sa 2016,” he said.
During the culmination of “Run Duterte Run” caravan on August 28 where some 10,000 supporters showed up at the Rizal Park, Duterte signified his “50-50” interest in running for president, but that his decision would depend on his family’s approval.
He said his daughter, former Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, vehemently disapproved of his running for the presidency.
Speculations that Duterte will run for president heightened after he went to different key cities around the country since last year to push for a shift to federalism.
“I told you it is all about federalism. Gusto ako suportahan pagka-presidente medyo napasubo sila sa desisyon nila because some of them are leaders of national parties,” he said.
Retirement
Duterte said he will retire from public service starting next year and will ask daughter Sara to run again for city mayor.
Duterte, mayor from 1988 to 1998, representative of the first district from 1998 to 2001 and mayor again from 2001 to 2010, served as vice mayor to his daughter-mayor from 2010 to 2013. In 2013, he was elected mayor for the seventh time with son Paolo as vice mayor.
In a chance interview with Davao media on Sept. 1, Paolo said he would give way to his siblings, Sara and Sebastian, should they decide to seek higher positions.
Sebastian has been prodded by a private group to run as the city’s 3rd district representative, succeeding Isidro Ungab who his on his last term as congressman.
Paolo said he will run again as barangay captain of Catalunan Grande, where his wife Councilor January Navares-Duterte is currently the village chief and president of Association of Barangay Councils, rather than putting another Duterte in any higher position in the city.
“Puno na kaayo og Duterte ang syudad sa Davao… didto nalang ko sa ako barangay (Davao City is already full of Dutertes… I’d rather go back to my barangay),” he said.
Peaceful Mindanao. -From mindanews.com

Friday, September 4, 2015

Cops clueless on separate ambush incidents in Central Mindanao

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Investigators are still clueless on Thursday’s separate ambush incidents in Maguindanao province and in Marawi City that left six dead, two of them Islamic preachers.
Chief Inspector Lendsy Sinsuat of the municipal police in Datu Odin town in Maguindanao on Friday said probers are yet to identify the suspects in the fatal ambush of spouses Mantil and Noraiha Sangkad in Barangay Pinguiaman.
The victims were on their way to Cotabato City, riding a motorcycle together along with their seven-year-old child when gunmen on board a car trailing behind opened fire with handguns, killing them on the spot.
Residents in Barangay Pinguiaman southwest of Datu Odin said the suspects could have trailed the victims from as far as the town proper in Barangay Dalican and attacked at a secluded stretch of the Cotabato-Gen. Santos Highway, along a hill overlooking the Liguasan Delta.
Responding barangay officials immediately took the couple’s beleaguered child, who survived the shooting frenzy unscathed, away from the scene after the suspects sped away.
The Sangkads are both preachers in an Islamic school in Barangay Semba, also in Datu Odin.
Nation ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
“Our investigators are still trying to establish the identities of the culprits. We still have to determine if the incident was triggered by an old grudge, or related to their common profession as preachers,” Sinsuat said.
The fatal ambush of the Sangkads preceded a shooting incident in Barangay Sarimanok in Marawi City, now touted as Mindanao’s shabu capital, which left four people dead. -From philstar.com

ARMM gov’t inks deal to help poor communities

COTABATO CITY, Philippines - Officials on Friday expanded the service network of the Health, Education, Livelihood, Peace and Governance Synergy (HELPS) program of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The HELPS program, launched in 2013, is meant to hasten the restoration of normalcy in impoverished peasant and fishing communities.
ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, Regional Public Works Secretary Don Mustapha Loong and the chiefs of the region’s eight district engineering offices (DEOs) signed here an agreement binding them to cooperate in the implementation of HELPS infrastructure projects.
The project involves 100 barangays located in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, both in mainland Mindanao, and the islands of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
Hataman said the DEOs will implement this time HELPS infrastructure thrusts, to be bankrolled by the ARMM government.
He said the infrastructure interventions are needed to expedite the socio-economic growth of barangays that are still reeling from the adverse effects of armed conflicts and natural calamities in decades past.
Nation ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
The ARMM will supervise and fund HELPS infrastructure initiatives through its Integrated Project Management Office (IPMO) in Cotabato City.
Besides its economic agenda, HELPS is also aimed at decreasing infant and maternal mortality and malnutrition among school children, provide children access to public schools, extend livelihood interventions to villagers and to foster peace through efficient community governance. -From philstar.com

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Magnitude 6.1 quake hits Sarangani, Davao Occidental

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Wednesday morning reported a magnitude 6.1 earthquake that rocked Sarangani, Davao Occidental.
The quake occurred at 9:18 a.m. with no reported intensities. Its epicenter was located 155 kilometers south west of Sarangani, Davao Occidental.
The tremor with depth of focus 312 kilometers did not cause any damage. However, in its advisory, Phivolcs said there are expected aftershocks.
Three other quakes were recorded by Phivolcs on Wednesday morning.
The first mild quake with magnitude 2 occurred at 12:50 a.m.  in Tingloy Batangas while the second one with magnitude 3.5 jolted Basco, Batanes shortly after at 1:34 a.m.
The third quake reported with magnitude 2 was also traced in Tingloy, Batangas. It occurred around 1:41 a.m.-From philstar.com
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