Monday, December 30, 2013

Soldier nabbed for bus hold-up

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Dec 31): Soldier nabbed for bus hold-up

A MILITARY official is disappointed over the alleged involvement of a soldier in a robbery inside a bus in Malaybalay City in Bukidnon province Saturday.

Captain Christian Uy, the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID) spokesman, said Monday that whatever was the reason of Private First Class Leonil Rosqueda, he should not have tried carrying out the robbery.

Uy said Rosqueda, a resident of Villa Angela Subdivision in Barangay Balulang village is an active soldier assigned at the 85th Infantry Battalion in Gumaca, Quezon province.

He said Rosqueda, 25, was on leave for the holidays.

Rosqueda is currently detained at the Malaybalay City police office.

Authorities intercepted the bus that Rosqueda allegedly robbed in Barangay Aglayan, Malaybalay on Saturday night.

Uy said Rosqueda is not a member of the 4ID as the latter is assigned in the Visayas islands and not under the jurisdiction of the division.

“Pero ngalan nga sundalo siya, daku siya ug kadaut sa imahe sa organization (But the fact that he is a soldier, what he has done can damage the image of the Philippine Army),” Uy said.

Uy said they have already informed Rosqueda’s unit and has committed to facilitate and assist the investigating authorities for the processing of the case that is possibly filed against him.

Uy said they will assure that there will be no whitewash on the investigation of the crime his fellow soldier allegedly committed.

Rosqueda was armed with a .45 caliber pistol when he allegedly held up passengers of a bus owned and operated by Rural Transit Mindanao Incorporated (RTMI).

He will be facing criminal and administrative cases in court.

PH literacy rate jumps by 5% in 10 years

From the Manila Times (Dec 30): PH literacy rate jumps by 5% in 10 years

National Statistics Office (NSO) data showed that literacy rate of Filipinos increased by 5 percent from 2000 to 2010, according to the statistical body’s 2010 Census of Population and Housing (CPH) data.

The CPH, released late Friday, stated that 97.5 percent or 69.8 million of the total 71.5 million persons aged 10 and above were literate in 2010, which was 5.2 percent higher than the 92.3 percent in 2000.

By NSO definition, a person is considered literate if he or she is “able to read and write a simple message in any language or dialect.”

The 71.5 million aged 10 years old and up comprised 77.7 percent of the country’s 92.1 million total population of the country to date.

In terms of gender, the NSO said that there are more literate females than males—higher by 0.2 percent, or 97.6 percent compared to 97.4-percent male literacy rate.

Geographically, the National Capital Region had the highest literacy rate with 99.7 percent while the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has the lowest literacy rate in regional terms with 82.5 percent.

Cavite had the highest literacy rate among provinces with 99.6 percent, while Sulu had the lowest at 76.6 percent.

The NSO said that in 2010, female outnumbered male attendance to school by 0.9 percent, referring to students aged five to 24.

“Females aged five to 24 who attended school during the school year 2009-2010 comprised 65 percent of all females in this age group. In comparison, [there are] 64.1 percent of males aged five to 24 [who] attended school in the same school year,” the state-run statistical body said.

The country had a total of 38.5 million persons aged five to 24 years. This age group makes up the 41.8 percent of the 92.1-million household population. Of the total 5-24 population, 24.9 million persons, or 64.5 percent had attended school at anytime from June 2009 to March 2010,” they added.

In terms of school attendance, Cordillera Administrative Region had the highest school attendance among regions with 69.4 percent of its students aged five to 24 attending school regularly while ARMM had the lowest with 59.3 percent.

At the provincial level, Batanes had the highest attendance in school among its students with 82.7 percent, while Basilan had the lowest with 52.8 percent.

MILF: Two barangays of Talayan, Maguindanao declared as Zone of Peace

Posted to the MILF Website (Dec 30): Two barangays of Talayan, Maguindanao declared as Zone of Peace

“After long years of sacrifice and perseverance of our team, including the parents and the community leaders, we have finally witnessed the declaration of Barangay  North Binangga and Katibpuan in Talayan, Maguindanao as Darussalam or Zone of Peace,” Norman Abbas said, the project officer of Kadtuntaya Foundation Inc. (KFI) in a community gathering held at Barangay Katibpuan on December 21.
Abbas explained before the huge crowd the importance of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreed and signed by community leaders of Talayan.

“Among the important contents of the MOU is, ‘whenever armed groups enter these barangays to conduct operations they must first coordinate with barangay officials or community leaders’,” Abbas disclosed.

“Showing of firearms in these two barangays is restricted,” he added.

“Selling, pushing and using illegal drugs or drinking liquor in the community as well as employing illegal fishing methods that would destroy and affect fauna, fries or fingerlings are also prohibited in these barangays,” he stressed.

According to Abbas, the copy of the MOU will be distributed to the security sector, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leaders in the area, concerned barangays, municipal and provincial local government units of Maguindanao, traditional keaders, Tiyakap Kalilintad, civil society groups and other peace partners.

Mr. Alex Virtanen of the Non-Violent Peace Force-Philippines (NPP), International Civilian Protection Monitor who witnessed the signing said, “The best way to achieve harmonious living is to declare peace.”

Virtanen, in his message expressed appreciation to the community’s effort for embarking on peace initiatives and sustaining economic development in these barangays.

Abdulnasser Binasing of the KFI, said, “Darussalam or ‘Abode of Peace’ based on the KFI definition and understanding, has twelve important descriptions and must have:

•    Social cohesion and unity among the member of the community;
•    Greater tolerance and respect to others culture;
•    Unity against any form of oppression and social injustice;
•    Promotion of what is good and prohibition of what is bad;
•    Continuing Islamic education and value formation;
•    Enhance equitable distribution of economic prosperity of justice;
•    Adequate distribution of basic social services;
•    Respect of gender rights;
•    Peaceful resolution of  community conflict;
•    Care of environment and ecosystem;
•    Respect human rights; and
•    Just, fair and quick trials and judgment).  

Teng Latip, Provincial Coordinator of Tiyakap Kalilintad, challenged the community members to strictly follow the contents of  the MOU. “This initiative have positive impact to the ongoing peace process between the government and the MILF, Our community is already advanced in the observance of soon-to-be implemented Shariah Justice System in the new Bangsamoro government,” Latip said.

The activity was a community and Tiyakap Kalilintad-led initiative with support from the barangay local government units (BLGU’s) of Municipality of Talayan, and the KFI.  

Representatives of international and local groups that witnessed the declaration of Darussalam were: NPP; Community and Family Services International (CFSI); Regional Reconciliation and Unification Commission (RRUC), ARMM; KFI; United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD); B/LGU, and some members of MILF.

Tiyakap Kalilintad is a Maguindanaon vernacular for “Care for Peace”. It is composed of civilian local peacekeeping teams organized to help sustain the cessation of hostilities and strengthen grassroots peace building in the conflict-prone areas in Central and Southwestern Mindanao.

MILF: BDA ZamBas Region creates ExeCom

From the MILF Website (Dec 30): BDA ZamBas Region creates ExeCom

Isabela City, Basilan: The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) ZamBas Region created its Regional Executive Committee (ExeCom) with the principal function relating to policy formulation and decision-making processes.
The creation of the ExeCom is in line with the ongoing institutional and human resources development initiatives of BDA Central Office in Cotabato City for the BDA Central and Regional Offices.

The RMO-ExeCom’s is composed of six members including the Regional Manager, Administrative Officer, Finance Officer, Human Resource and Development Officer and the Programs Coordinator.

During its inception meeting, the ExeCom formulated policies on absences, tardiness and prescribed office uniforms wherein a day of absence will be fined with minus 1 day from net take home pay based on 22 working days per month; 3 times tardiness is equivalent to 1 absent; and incomplete uniform will also be sanctioned.

Also taken up during the ExeCom meeting is the savings and contributions of the BDA staff designated with the Mindanao Trust Fund – Reconstructions and Development Programs (MTF-RDP), CPC, TCP and Sajahatra Bangsamoro.

BDA Regional Manager Tony D. Sakkalahul chairs the Execom whose next meeting is slated on February 27, 2014.

MILF: BDA Regional Office hosts Focus Discussion on BDP

From the MILF Website (Dec 30): BDA Regional Office hosts Focus Discussion on BDP

Isabela City, Basilan: A Focus Group Discussion (FGD) on the formulation of the Bangsamoro Development Plan (BDP) being conceived under the guidance of the MILF Central Committee was recently spearheaded here by the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) ZamBas Regional Office.
The FGD was participated in by JICA-PHILKOEI International, Inc. headed by its team Leader Joselito Supangco, Benjamin Ubpon, Institutional Development Officer of BDA-RMO ZamPen based in Pagadian City and various development partners that came all the way the island province of Tawi-Tawi.

Tony D. Sakkalahul, BDA Regional Manager, in his statements, stressed the importance of the Bangsamoro Development Plan for the future Bangsamoro governance as this would-be BDP was conceived through consultative processes involving the cross-sectors of society.

Sakkalahul said “this BDP will be a landmark legacy of the MILF and its development workers, imprinting a proactive positioning of a revolutionary movement for progress and development.

Representatives from the provincial and city local government units and nongovernment organizations shared respective data, assessment and priority development concerns, particularly on agriculture, fishery and agro-industry, infrastructure, environment and natural resources, power, water resources, and disaster management that form part of the inputs for the BDP - Phase 1 for the Bangsamoro Transitional Development Plan (2014-2015) and Phase 2 for Medium Term BDP for 2015-2019.

Also in attendance, acting as secretariat, were Zenaida Aunal, BDA Admin Officer, Shaiba Mukammala, CPC-CO, Muhsin Asnaul and Engr. Haihintong, BDA Program Coordinator.

Zambo cops on full alert for possible threat by Misuari supporters

From the Philippine Star (Dec 31): Zambo cops on full alert for possible threat by Misuari supporters

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has deployed additional forces in this city in preparation for possible retaliatory threats from rebel forces sympathetic to fugitive Moro National Liberation Front leader Nur Misuari, an official said yesterday.

Chief Superintendent Juanito Vaño, Police Regional Office 9 (PRO) director, said the deployment is part of their security plan to address a possible threat.

Police officers from the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) and those from the neighboring provinces in the Zamboanga peninsula were re-deployed in many strategic locations in this city.

“Zamboanga City can no longer take another one (attack),” Vaño said when asked by newsmen about any present threat from the rebel group under Misuari.

There has been talk that Misuari’s supporters plan to rescue detained MNLF rebels who participated in the bloody siege here in September. Vaño, however, said they have not received this kind of information but are seriously considering the threat.

He said no policeman deployed here would observe the rotational break during the New Year celebration. “All PNP personnel shall be all on the street and we are on full alert,” he said.

Task Force Zamboanga also doubled its security troops to complement the presence of the police forces, according to its commander Col. Andrelino Colina.

Both police and military officials said security forces would be deployed in vital installations and public places of convergence.

Ransom paid for kidnapped Indian trader’s release

From the Philippine Star (Dec 31): Ransom paid for kidnapped Indian trader’s release

Ransom was paid in exchange for the release last week of Indian trader Krishan Singh Arora at the border of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte provinces, his daughter revealed yesterday.

Arora’s daughter, Kritika, who is based in Canada, denied over Catholic station dxMS the statement of Senior Superintendent Madid Paicao, director of the Lanao del Norte police, that Arora escaped while his kidnappers were asleep.

She said her father was turned over by the kidnappers to a negotiator who arranged the ransom payoff.

“I paid half the amount to the person who negotiated for my father’s release and the other half to the kidnappers,” she said.

Kritika declined to reveal the total amount of money she paid the negotiator and the kidnappers.

Text messages earlier circulated stated that the kidnappers for P10 million from Arora’s family.

“My dad did not escape from his abductors. He was set free,” Kritika said.

The Indian businessman was seized as he was opening the Eversun Plywood Factory in Barangay Sarmiento in Parang town on Nov. 13.

Rights group slams PNP for barring visits to political detainees, demands explanation

From InterAksyon (Dec 30): Rights group slams PNP for barring visits to political detainees, demands explanation

The human rights organization Karapatan slammed the Philippine National Police for barring two of its officers and several others from visiting political prisoners detained at the custodial center in Camp Crame and demanded an explanation for the move.

In a confidential memorandum dated December 27, Chief Superintendent Charles Calima Jr., head of the PNP directorate for intelligence, cited unspecified derogatory record/information for dropping six persons, including Karapatan's Cristina Palabay, the group's secretary general, and Ivy Joy Valencia, from a scheduled visit to the political prisoners on December 29.

A copy of the memorandum, obtained by Karapatan, was furnished
The others who were not allowed to visit were Rey Claro Casambre of the Philippine Peace Center, Nenet Gonzaga, Peter Gonzales and Petra Venus Villegas.

They were among a group of 17 that sought clearance to visit political detainees Eduardo Sarmiento, Ramon Argente, Renante Gamara and Eduardo Serrano, all consultants of the National Democratic Front, for a Christmas party.

Palabay said Karapatan chair Marie Hilao-Enriquez was also barred from the visit even if she is an independent observer to the peace talks between government and the NDF, which represents communist rebels in the peace talks.

Aside from barring the six and Hilao-Enriquez, Calima, in his memorandum, also ordered the Camp Crame commander to provide security/monitoring personnel to ensure the security during the said visitation and submit to the directorate an after activity report.

Palabay demanded that the PNP €œexplain the supposedly confidential memorandum and said Karapatan would file a complaint over €œjail policies which curtail the rights of political prisoners, human rights and peace advocates.

Severe penalties await PAF men caught firing weapons during New Year's Eve revelry

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 30): Severe penalties await PAF men caught firing weapons during New Year's Eve revelry
Severe penalties await Philippine Air Force (PAF) enlisted personnel and officers caught firing their service firearms indiscriminately during the coming New Year's Eve revelry.

This was disclosed by PAF spokesperson Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol Monday, a full day before the annual merry making festivities.

"Enlisted men caught and found guilty of firing their service weapons are immediately discharged from the service while officers will be court martialed," he added.

Okol also said that all service weapons issued to the PAF are now muzzled, as early as last week, to ensure that they will not be indiscriminately fired and in the process wound or kill someone.

PA warns troopers against indiscriminate firing on New Year's eve

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 30): PA warns troopers against indiscriminate firing on New Year's eve
The Philippine Army ordered its soldiers on Monday not to engage in indiscriminate firing this New Year's eve revelry as stiff sanction awaits those caught doing this illegal act.

"It is clear to every Army personnel that firing their weapons indiscriminately is punishable under the Articles of War," Army spokesperson Capt. Anthony Bacus said.

Under the said article, illegal discharge of firearm may result to demotion or dismissal from the military service.

Those who would be found guilty of violating this will be dealt with accordingly, Bacus said.

“All unit commanders on the field are reminded to consistently monitor their respective subordinates on or off duty to ensure that this policy is strictly enforced not only in the observance of this significant occasion but all throughout the coming year as it is our duty to be of role model citizens to others,” he added.

Illegal discharge of firearm is also punishable under Article 254 of Republic Act No. 3815, also known as the Revised Penal Code.

Under Article 254, violators will face six months and one day to six years imprisonment.

Soldiers join nation in commemoration of Rizal's 117th death anniversary

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 30): Soldiers join nation in commemoration of Rizal's 117th death anniversary

The Eastern Mindanao Command of the Philippine Army joined the nation in commemorating the 117th death anniversary and martyrdom of Dr. Jose P. Rizal on Monday with the theme, “Rizal: Inspirasyon Noon, Ngayon, at Bukas.”

Capt. Alberto Caber, Eastern Mindanao Command spokesperson, said flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremonies at the Rizal monument in Davao City took place at around 7 a.m.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier G. Cruz III, commander of the PA's 1st Infantry Division, said that Rizal fought for freedom in a non-violent way during his time.

He noted that like the Filipino hero, the soldiers under Eastern Mindanao Command remain steadfast in the achievement of just and lasting peace through "Bayanihan," a peaceful and humane means of winning the peace.

Also in the celebration were officials and employees of the Davao City government, Philippine National Police Region 11, Task Force Davao, Department of Education, Knights of Columbus, Knights of Rizal, Veterans Federation of the Philippines, Boy and Girl Scouts of the Philippines, among others.

Filipinos commemorate Rizal Day

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Dec 30): Filipinos commemorate Rizal Day

President Benigno Aquino on Monday led the commemoration of the Rizal Day in his hometown in Tarlac, while Vice President Jejomar Binay also led a similar activity in Manila with Mayor Joseph Estrada.

Aquino arrived shortly before 7 a.m. at the City Plazuela for the flag-raising ceremony and then he offered flowers before the Rizal monument. Tarlac Governor Victor Yap assisted the president.

Present were officials including National Historical Commission of the Philippines head Maria Serena Diokno, Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima and Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista.


[Video: 117th Death Anniversary and Martyrdom of Dr. Jose P. Rizal]

Similar rites marking Rizal’s martyrdom were observed in other areas of the country.

In Davao City, army troops joined the commemoration of the martyrdom of the country’s national hero, Dr Jose Rizal, 117 years ago.

Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz III, chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said: “Dr Jose Rizal had fought a non-violent way during his time. Like Dr Rizal, the soldiers under Eastern Mindanao Command remain steadfast in the achievement of just and lasting peace through Bayanihan, a peaceful and humane means of winning the peace.”

In Zamboanga City, Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar also led the commemoration of Rizal Day. Rizal was executed by the Spaniards in what is now Luneta Park on December 30, 1896.

President Benigno Aquino III, assisted by Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista and National Historical Commission of the Philippines Chairperson Maria Serena Diokno, offers a wreath during the commemoration of the 117th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal at the Rizal Park in Toledo Street in Tarlac City on Monday, December 30, 2013. (Photo by Benhur Arcayan) And troops in Davao City also commemorated Rizal Day.