Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sabah stand-off: 10 charged with Lahad Datu intrusion

From Asia One/New Straits Times (May 15): Sabah stand-off: 10 charged with Lahad Datu intrusion

The nephew of Jamalul Kiram III was among 10 people charged at the High Court here yesterday with the Lahad Datu intrusion.

Datu Amirbahar Hushin Kiram, 49, and eight others were accused of waging war against the king and being a member of a terrorist group at the High Court, which presided at the Tawau Prisons Department.

A woman, Norhaida Ibnahi, was also accused of being a member of a terrorist group.

For the additional charge of waging war against the king, Amirbahar and the eight others -- Rijmal Salleh, Saidili Jaharul, Dani Ismail, Pabblo Alie, Mohamad Ali Ahmad, Basil Samiul, Rizman Gulan and Abdul Majil Jubin -- face the death penalty if convicted.

No plea was recorded from the 10, who were produced before High Court judge Ravinthran Paramaguru, who postponed the hearing to June 7.

Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail appeared for the prosecution assisted by Prosecution Division (policy) deputy head Datuk Nordin Hassan.

"We are looking into the possibility of holding joint trials but that will be carried out once we sort out the counsels representing the accused, among other things," said Gani.

In the hearing yesterday, Gani said he may apply to have the cases transferred to Kota Kinabalu.

Present yesterday was counsel James Tsai, who was appointed by the Philippine government to represent Filipino nationals accused of being involved in the intrusion, which began in Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu in February.

The intrusion escalated into an all-out military operation by Malaysian security forces centred on the Felda Sahabat area and had spread into several east coast districts, such as Semporna, Beluran, Kunak and Sandakan.

Apart from Tsai, several counsels were also present, including representatives from the Sabah Law Association, who held a watching brief, led by its president Datuk Gaanesh Nandy, Datuk John Sikayun, Syarulnizam Salleh and Ram Singh.

The number of people charged in the High Court in connection with the intrusion now stands at 30.

This includes a policeman, Corporal Hassan Ali Basari, who claimed trial after being accused of withholding information about terrorist activities.

He was charged under Section 130M of the Penal Code.

The trial for Hassan, who is represented by counsel Kamaruddin Mohmad Chinki, has been set for June 24 to June 28.

Of the 29 other suspects, five were represented by counsels while the rest were under Tsai, who is expected to apply for an ad hoc submission for International Criminal Court Counsel Datuk N. Sivananthan and assign counsels from the Sabah Law Association.


Depicting the life and works of the first Four-star General of Mindanao

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 14): Depicting the life and works of the first Four-star General of Mindanao

Who would think that an ordinary man from a very simple family would become surprisingly extraordinary and an inspiration to the many?

He is the complete epitome of a person who believes in the saying, “it pays to work hard.” He got his guiding principle in life from Cicero, a Roman philosopher, who said: “The man who commands efficiently must have obeyed others in past, and the man who obeys dutifully is worthy of being someday a commander.”


Alexander Badong Yano was the eldest in a brood of five who were raised by parents, Iñigo Yano and Gloria Badong; both public school teachers. Their family came from the municipality of Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte.

He graduated salutatorian during his elementary education in a public school in Zamboanga del Norte in 1965. He went to Dipolog to pursue his secondary education at Saint Vincent’s College and graduated with honors in 1969.

As described by Ms. Josefina M. Alforque, one of his grade schoolteachers, “Alex was everything a Grade 1 teacher would have wanted of a pupil: obedient, polite, friendly, and well-behaved. One could tell even then that he’d grow up to be a man of fine character. He excelled in almost all subjects more particularly in arithmetic, reading and writing.”

General Yano married Estela Aragon from La Union, now a retired military nurse, with whom he has a son named Ervin Andrew.

Entering PMA

“I was a student activist during my college days in Cebu in 1969-1972. I was then a third year Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering student and was not an ideal student. I was an irregular student due to activism. I thought, I wouldn’t have finished engineering in five years,” Gen. Yano said.

“When Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadets visited Cebu, I was impressed by their discipline and performance during drills. I took the exam and passed in 1972. I want to pursue my ideals in a more positive and productive way as a cadet and soldier,” he added.

He further said that because of the scholarship in the academy and being the eldest in a financial- constrained family with siblings starting college in Cebu, he decided to pursue a military career.

As a PMA cadet, he excelled in athletics and extra-curricular activities. He even set two PMA athletic records, in high jump for 5 ft. 9 inches and 400-meter low hurdles by 1.9 seconds.

He later on completed and topped in all his military trainings in the Philippines and abroad. He also finished the Infantry Officers Advance Course in the US Army Infantry School, Fort Benning and Georgia, USA and landed in the Commandant’s List as an honor graduate.

Service beyond the call of duty

General Alexander B. Yano got the highest position in the AFP hierarchy as the 38th AFP chief of staff, succeeding General Hermogenes C. Esperon Jr.

He became the great pride of Zamboanga del Norte, being the first four-star military general not only from the province but the whole of Mindanao as well. He was also the 49th commanding general of the Philippine Army.

He had been assigned in Northern and Central Luzon and the provinces of Samar in the 70s and 80s during the height of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) rebellion.

He became Task Force Zamboanga chief and overall ground tactical commander during the 2001 Cabatangan crisis that led to the release of over a hundred civilian hostages from over 300 Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) breakaway group elements. This accomplishment gained him a name as the “Liberator of Cabatangan” from the late Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Clara Lobregat.

“I was dealing with the CPP and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) threats, terrorism and kidnapping in Mindanao, consolidation of the force and preventing coups,” Yano said when asked about the challenges he faced with while active in the military service.

During Gen. Yano’s term as the brigade commander in General Santos City, no single terrorist bombing occurred during the height of terrorism.

After receiving his “first-star” in 2003, he was the first in his batch who became a general. And in 2005, he earned his “second star” as a major general.

Onay Museum

An impressive and incredible masterpiece and collection of Gen. Yano’s journey in life was built and completed in 2009 in Sicayab, Dipolog City, featuring his humble beginnings and his achievements being a man of consequence.

A big portrait showing the life and works of the general would welcome you as you enter the museum. You would be tempted to pose for a picture with this portrait depicting his childhood to adolescence and to his years in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) and Philippine Army (PA).

Definitely, you wouldn’t want to miss taking a pose with all the awards and other souvenir items of General Yano inside the museum.

Among his collections are his memorabilia, uniforms, trophies, medals and plaques of appreciation and recognition for his courage and bravery, and other items gathered in the course of his military and diplomatic careers. Photos and news clippings about his great works and legacy are also displayed inside the museum.

“You will find collection of items from my boyhood days in Sindangan and Dipolog, college days in Cebu, cadetship in PMA, my distinguished military career spanning 37 years and my ambassadorial tour in Brunei Darussalam,” General Yano said.

One of the attention-catchers from his array of things displayed in the museum is a letter written during his elementary years on July 4, 1960 addressed to his grandmother and uncle; asking them to send him money for his uniform and clothing.

“This will serve as an inspiration to local residents and young people showing my humble beginnings that they too can succeed through hard work, sacrifice and dedication,” the general further said.

Although it is open to the public, one has to seek prior permission from the general or his caretaker before he could explore inside the gallery.  

Facing new challenges

Gen. Yano had his early retirement on May 1, 2009 and was succeeded by Lt. Gen. Victor Ibrado.

Right after his retirement from the military service, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appointed him as the Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam.

Presently, he is living as an ordinary citizen but still continuously serving the Filipino people in his own little ways.

He had written and published his book entitled “Onay: A personal journey”.

“I want to share my thoughts, experiences and personal story so that people may gain lessons and inspiration from it - that a local boy who, with sheer perseverance, hardwork, sacrifice and merit, had reached the highest post in the AFP,” Gen. Yano said.

“Strive hard through your own merit, talents, hardwork and sacrifice. Endeavor for excellence in everything you do,” his answer when asked for his formula of success.

Truly, he is a man with a competent leadership, a dedication to duty, and a high level of professionalism, bringing prestige, honour and inspiration to the Filipinos, especially the youth.


Taiwan 'defers' actions vs PHL but seeks clarifications

From GMA News (May 15): Taiwan 'defers' actions vs PHL but seeks clarifications

Taiwan on Wednesday "deferred" its planned punitive actions against the Philippines following Manila's response to its demands in connection with the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman during an encounter in disputed waters last May 9.

But Taiwan also sought clarifications from Manila on some of its responses, according to a report on Taiwanese news sites early Wednesday.

 "We cannot take further action at this time," Taiwan's Foreign Minister David Lin said at a press conference, according to a report by Taiwan's Central News Agency.

Lin met for four hours with Manila Economic and Cultural Office managing director Antonio Basilio.

He said MECO chairman Amadeo Perez Jr. was to arrive in Taiwan later Wednesday, and Taiwan will verify the situation before taking any further action.

During the press conference, Basilio expressed regret and sympathy over the death of fisherman Hung Shih-cheng, 65.

Basilio said he had been authorized by his government to express condolences and offer an apology to the family of Hung, who was shot dead aboard a fishing boat in disputed waters.

Also, he said financial assistance would be provided to Hung's family, but he did not provide figures.

On the other hand, Lin said the Philippines agreed to a joint investigation into the shooting, with Taiwan investigators expected to travel to the Philippines as early as Thursday.

He added the Philippines has agreed to hold talks on fishery cooperation with Taiwan to prevent a repeat of the May 9 incident.

Lin said Taiwan hopes the discussions can take place before the end of May.

Taiwan earlier warned that if the Philippines does not agree to its demands, it will freeze applications for the employment of Filipino workers.

It also threatened to recall its representative to Manila and ask the Philippines' representative to Taipei to return to his home country.

Clarification needed

But a separate report on Taipei Times said that while Lin said the Philippines' response was “positive,” it needs more “clarity.”

Taipei Times said negotiations between Basilio and Lin went beyond midnight Tuesday, with a press conference eventually being held at 1 a.m. Wednesday.

Perez to convey regret, apology

In a letter to Lin that he delivered Tuesday, Basilio said MECO Chairman Perez is to visit Taiwan Wednesday and “convey the Filipino people’s deep regret and apology to the family of Mr. Hung as well as to the people of Taiwan over the unfortunate loss of life.”

But Lin said the foreign ministry also needed Basilio to confirm that he has the full authorization of the Philippine government.

He said Basilio had promised him that Philippine presidential spokesperson would hold a press conference Wednesday morning to confirm that Basilio was fully authorized.

Basilio had offered a public apology to Hung’s family on Friday last week and then visited the family on Saturday, when he apologized again.

Military exercise

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense Tuesday said the navy was ready to carry out a military exercise in waters south of Taiwan Thursday, with Kidd-class destroyers and Chengkung-class frigates to show Taiwan’s determination to protect its fishermen.

But the ministry said it will not make a final decision on the exercise, to be conducted jointly with the Coast Guard Administration (CGA), until a determination on whether Manila’s response was acceptable.

MILF: Muslim women leaders undergo capability-building training-seminar

From the MILF Website (May 15): Muslim women leaders undergo capability-building training-seminar


Thirty-seven (37) Muslim women leaders attended a capability-building seminar-training at Madrasa Ad-Dourie Ul-Ilmie wal-Iman in Tinagacan, General Santos City on May 8-10, 2013 aimed to increase the skills of the participants towards strengthening their organization.

The activity included lectures and workshops on data gathering, basic documentation, and writing simple news article. They were also lectured on the history of Bangsamoro struggle, Government  of the Philippines-Moro Islamic Liberation Front Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and Aqeeda Islamiya (Islamic ideology).

The participants are chapter officers and members of Mindanao Women Advocacy on Good Governance (MWAGG) from Malungon, Malapatan, Kiamba and Maasim in Sarangani Province and City of General Santos.

Gandhi Kinjiyo, a Moro writer and peace advocate, handled the lecture-workshop on documentation, data gathering and writing straight news. He also related the history of the bangsamoro struggle.

Kinjiyo noted that Muslim organizations conduct many activities but it is often not published because there are very few who do the writing.

“I am thankful that you participate in this documentation and news writing workshop. I hope you will be able to make your own newsletter soon and we will also try to publish your write-ups in the internet,” the resource person said.

“It is very important that every activity you conduct should have documentation because it serves as evidence of your undertakings and it could also be shared as reference for any research works,” he stressed.

Kinjiyo also hinted the participants on how and when to take photos when covering an event and urged them to use digital voice recorder to capture precisely statements of the speakers for their documentation.

The FAB orientation was delivered in Maguindanaon dialect by Tommy Nawa, Sugoda Buayan Province Political Committee Secretary. He elaborated well the salient points of the initial peace agreement that was signed in Malacanang Palace on October 15, 2012.

He outlined the establishment of the Bangsamoro new Political Entity, the Basic law, the powers of the Bangsamoro, Wealth Sharing, Territory, Basic Rights, Transition and Implementation, and Normalization.

The two panels will sign a comprehensive peace agreement and implement it. Thereafter, an exit agreement will be signed if all the provisions of the peace agreement are implemented,” he said. He pointed out the crucial role of the International Peace Monitors who will evaluate if the two parties implement the peace agreement.

Nawa told the women leaders that for more than 390 years of Bangsamoro struggle, thousands of Mujaheedin (freedom fighters) have already perished leaving widows and orphans.

Ustadz Abdulsatar Alangan, Chair of the Dawah Committee in the area, discussed the Islamic faith. He began his lecture on relating the history of Islamization in the Philippines. He also focused on the importance of having fear to Allahu ta Ala and being obedient to what is ordained by the Almighty in the Holy Qur’an so that Muslims won’t be lost.

Ustadz Ebrahim Sandigan from the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) told the participants how important it is for all the Moro leaders of Mindanao regardless of fronts or factions to be united on their objectives for the Bangsamoro.

CBCS currently implements the Mindanao Solidarity Project with the goal to bring together the Moro leaders of Mindanao to have a common objective and move towards the realization of genuine peace and development in Southern Philippines.

The activity was realized through the efforts of MWAGG Chairperson Prof Naima Gumaga and regional head Saguira Gumander with their chapter officers and members. The CBCS was the major sponsor.

Kinjiyo and Nawa are staffs of Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA)-Southern Mindanao Regional Office. BDA implements development initiatives in conflict affected areas in Southern Philippines.


Navy set to monitor Taiwan naval exercises off north Luzon

From Malaya (May 15): Navy set to monitor Taiwan naval exercises off north Luzon

THE Philippine Navy yesterday said it will closely monitor the planned naval exercise by Taiwan near the border in northern Luzon in the wake of last week’s shooting of a Taiwanese fishing boat that left a fisherman dead.

The Taipei Times quoted Taiwan’s deputy defense minister Andrew Yang as saying that a Kidd-class destroyer and a Cheng Kung class frigate will be escorting two coast guard ships patrolling the Bashi Channel for training operations on Thursday.

Last Sunday or three days after the shooting incident off Balintang channel in Batanes, it said the Taiwanese Navy dispatched a LaFayette-class frigate to join coast guard ships in patrol.

The Taipei Times said the upcoming drill, which was supported by lawmakers in a resolution, will reportedly be held about 164 nautical miles southeast of the southernmost tip of Taiwan where the Taiwanese fishing boat was “attacked.”

The Philippine Coast Guard had said that the Taiwanese fishing vessel tried to ram its ship during a board and search maneuver, prompting the Coast Guard to fire a warning shot and subsequently at the engine portion of the fishing boat.

Taiwan has threatened to recall its envoy and stop granting work permits if Manila does not issue an apology, arrest the personnel involved and compensate the family of the killed fisherman. The ultimatum ended Tuesday midnight.

The Taipei Times also quoted the resolution as saying that Taiwan’s defense ministry and the coast guard should disperse Filipino fishing boats within Taiwan’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone if the Philippines fails to heed the ultimatum.

There were also reports of Taiwanese fishermen burning Philippine flags last Monday in protest of the shooting of the Taiwanese vessel. They demanded justice for the killed fisherman and punishment of the perpetrators while hurling eggs at the Philippine cultural office in Taipei.

Sought for comment on the planned exercise, Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Gerald Fabic said: “We have assets, naval station in Batanes. From there, we will be monitoring the naval exercises they will be conducting.”

Fabic declined to further comment, and deferred to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Malacañang. The DFA, on the other hand, deferred to Malacañang.

Defense spokesman Peter Paul Galvez also refused to comment “to avoid any misunderstanding.”

Coast Guard spokesman Cmdr. Armand Balilo said the 11 PCG personnel and the ship involved in the incident arrived at the Coast Guard headquarters in Manila last Monday for the investigation.

Balilo earlier said the PCG is open to making an apology, depending on the result of the investigation being conducting by its internal affairs office.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said government opts to keep calm and quiet and let the concerned officials handle the situation to avoid aggravating the situation.
Lacierda said it is more prudent not to comment at this time, and not to telegraph the county’s actions through the media.

He said Antonio Basilio, managing director and Resident Representative of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, will deliver the Philippines’ response to his counterpart.


Taiwan rejects Philippines' apology as 'insincere' - Taiwan TV

From InterAksyon (May 15): Taiwan rejects Philippines' apology as 'insincere' - Taiwan TV

Taiwan on Wednesday rejected the Philippines' official apology for the killing of the 65-year-old fisherman by the Philippine Coast Guard last week saying it was "not enough, lack of sincerity, volatile," according to a Taiwan television report.

A rough translation of the report in Chinese said that Taiwan President Ma Ying-Jeou met with his National Security Council at 7 a.m. today to discuss the apology and decided that the Philippines’ “reckless, perfunctory authorization is not enough.”

“To express our strong dissatisfaction,” Taiwan has stopped issuing visas to Filipino workers and recalled its de facto ambassador to the Philippines and sent Antonio Basilio, Philippine head of the Manila Economic Cooperation Office in Taipei, back to the home office.

Taiwan President Ma also warned that if the Philippine government fails to meet its four requirements by 6 p.m. today, Taiwan will enforce “eight inter-ministerial sanctions.”

The Philippines sent Basilio to Taiwan Tuesday evening to deliver the official letter of apology after the Philippine Coast Guard shot dead Hung Shih-Cheng last week, sparking tensions that saw Taipei threaten a naval exercise near Philippine waters.
Since Tuesday morning, Taiwan has stopped the issuance of visas to Filipinos seeking to work there.

Around 80,000 overseas Filipino workers live and work in Taiwan, mostly as factory workers or caregivers.


AFP to file charges against politicians who cooperated with NPAs this elections

From the Daily Tribune (May 15): AFP to file charges against politicians who cooperated with NPAs this elections

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan on Tuesday said that the military, together with civilian authorities, are preparing to file charges against politicians who willingly gave in to the New People’s Army (NPA)’s permit-to-campaign and-win extortion schemes during the recently concluded May 13 mid-term elections.

“If there is evidence (that merits) the filing of the case, we will see the case at court,” he added.

Tutaan said that the identities of these politicians will be discussed in the coming post elections assessment of the AFP.

He added that investigations will also be done to determine whether these individuals gave money willingly to the rebel or did it under pressure or duress.

The AFP spokesperson also stated that the filing of the charges will be done in accordance with existing laws.


Malacañang moves to defuse brewing PHL-Taiwan row

From the Business Mirror (May 14): Malacañang moves to defuse brewing PHL-Taiwan row

Malacañang moved to defuse a brewing row between Manila and Taipei over the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by an anti-poaching patrol unit off Batanes islands.
“President Aquino said we will handle this in a prudent manner. We will handle this on a calm basis, and we will transmit our response [on this issue] through the proper channels,” said Palace Spokesman Edwin Lacierda as he fielded questions by reporters in a news conference that included journalists from Taipei and Hong Kong.
Lacierda told the foreign journalists that the Philippine Coast Guard’s scheduled news conference on Tuesday morning was canceled “because we are going to announce our response through the proper channels and not through media; and you will be informed as soon as the decision has been transmitted through proper channels.”
After casting his vote at a polling precinct inside Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, President Aquino faced reporters but downplayed questions over reports that Taiwan set a 72-hour deadline for a Philippine apology and compensation for the victim, or sanctions would be imposed including a freeze in hiring Filipino workers.
“I can answer it this way, that was not how our de facto embassy in Taipei reported the matter. I think it is in the interest of both parties to proceed on a calm basis. So we are proceeding in that manner,” Mr. Aquino added.
The President explained that given the country’s One China Policy, the Department of Foreign Affairs is letting the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (Meco), the Philippine mission in Taiwan, to handle the matter.
“And I, of course, will course it through the DFA. I asked the secretary of foreign affairs to monitor but the lead person has to be Meco because of the One China Policy,” he told reporters.