Aaahh, text me later!

April 30, 2006 at 8:04 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A boy yawns while texting from his cell phone in Mutia town in Zamboanga del Norte province in the southern Philippines. (Zamboanga Journal)

Zamboanga Mayor Urges Malakanyang To Increase Salaries Of Workers

April 30, 2006 at 7:55 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 30 Apr) Acting Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabel Climaco urged Malakanyang to seriously consider increasing the salary of the labor force in the private sector amid the soaring prices of basic commodities, as she cited the important role of laborers in nation building. 

“We are very thankful to the labor sector for its contribution to the community and the country. But we are also concerned with the difficulties that laborers encounter in view of the increasing cost of living," she said.  She said the high costs of basic commodities and the meager earnings of laborers are taking its toll on the work force.  

"Their priority is to provide the family’s daily needs, such as food and better life for the children, but how would they be able to this if they earn so little and spend so much because everything now is so expensive," Climaco said. 

Labor groups were demanding for a P125 legislated across the board minimum wage hike citing the current economic crisis.  Climaco said she and the Zamboanga City Council would undertake alternative livelihood activities to help the men and women who wanted to augment their income.  

She said she would open up skills development trainings, such as meat processing, flower arrangement, handicraft making, baking, among others to help those who wanted to earn more. "These trainings will be held in different villagers," she said. 

Climaco also urged employers to strictly comply with labor laws and pay their workers the right wages on time.

Threats of terror attacks put Mindanao authorities in heightened alert

April 30, 2006 at 5:56 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 30 Apr) Security forces are in heightened alert in the southern Philippines following intelligence reports of a possible bomb attack by the Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiya, officials said Sunday.

Police earlier sounded the alarm on possible attacks by Indonesian militants who are members of the Jemaah Islamiya on key cities in the southern region, Davao, General Santos, Koronadal and Zamboanga. 

"We are in heightened alert. There are reports that JI is planning an attack on civilian targets. Security forces are in red alert and we appeal to citizens to report to authorities any suspicious person or abandoned package or bag in public places. We should stay vigilant," Lt. Col. Francisco Simbajon, spokesman of the Army's 4th Infantry Division based in northern Mindanao, told the Zamboanga Journal. 

Simbajon said soldiers were also monitoring the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group and the New People's Army (NPA), which may also mount attacks.

"The terrorist groups Abu Sayyaf and the New People's Army are also in top of our battle plan," he said. 

Chief Supt. Florante Baguio, regional police chief, said he also ordered a tight security in northern Mindanao, particularly Cagayan de Oro City.” We are strengthening now our security in the region. Our policemen are now on alert," he said. 

A police intelligence report identified the Indonesian militants as Jeya Ewal and six others were allegedly targeting Davao City; Siyah Muhar, with seven members, were tasked to mount bombing attacks in General Santos and Koronadal cities, and Abdul Muhamad and six others in Zamboanga City.

Seven other Jemaah militants led by Basit Alharem were also planning an attack in the country's financial district in Makati City, it said. 

Last month, Navy Adm. William J. Fallon, chief of the United States Pacific Command, tagged Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago in the southern Philippines as a sanctuary and recruiting and training grounds for terrorists. 

"The southern Philippines, Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago remain a sanctuary, training and recruiting ground for terrorist organizations," he told US Senate Armed Services Committee, adding, Southeast Asia remains the command's focal point in the war on terror. He said winning the war on terrorism is his highest priority and to achieve that goal, the command is striving to eliminate the violence that now threatens the people and stability of the Asia-Pacific region.

"We continue efforts to create a secure and stable environment," Fallon said.  Fallon said activities by terrorists and their supporters have been centered in the Philippines,
Indonesia and Malaysia and that these countries are cooperating with the US.  

"With the cooperation of those nations, we have been building capacity and strengthening the ability of those countries to resist the activities of the terrorists and to actively seek their capture or demise," he said.  

He said the command is also working to mature joint and combined war fighting capability and readiness.  

"Fundamental to success in the war on terror and continued stability in the Asia-Pacific region is our joint and combined war fighting capability and readiness," Fallon said. "As virtually every operation and activity is conducted jointly and in concert with allies, it is important that we train to operate more efficiently as a multinational team."  

Fallon did not say what terrorist groups were operating in the southern Philippines, but
Manila previously admitted that dozens of members of the Southeast Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiya, including Dulmatin and Pitono, linked to the deadly 2002 Bali bombings, were hiding in Mindanao island. 

Aside from the Jemaah Islamiya, the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group, implicated in the spate of bombings and kidnappings of foreigners in Mindanao, and renegade members of the local Muslim separatist group Moro Islamic Liberation Front, are also active in the southern Philippines. Both the Abu Sayyaf and the NPA are on a US list of terrorist organizations. (With a report from Ben Balce in Cagayan de Oro City)

Abu Militant Captured In Basilan Island

April 29, 2006 at 6:28 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 25 Apr) Military agents captured Saturday an Abu Sayyaf militant, whose group is tied to terrorist al-Qaeda network, in the southern Philippine island of Basilan, officials said.

Officials said Abdusalih Dimah was nabbed in Basilan's Kapayawan village around 6.30 a.m. after weeks of surveillance operation by army and military agents. A gun was seized from Dimah, they said.

The military implicated Dimah in the 2001 kidnapping of 20 holidaymakers, including three U.S. citizens — Kansas missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham and Californian Guillermo Sobero — in the posh Dos Palmas resort in the central Philippine island of Palawan.

Officials said security forces were tracking down other members of the Abu Sayyaf group hiding on Basilan island in northernmost of the Sulu Archipelago.

Security forces on Monday also captured an Abu Sayyaf member, Sharie Amiruddin, who is also known by his nom de guerre as Abu Omar, in Zamboanga City.

The military also linked Amiruddin to the Dos Palmas kidnapping and the spate of bomb attacks in the southern Philippines. Intelligence reports tied Amiruddin to previous bomb attacks in Jolo island and Zamboanga City and the kidnappings of Filipinos in Basilan island the past years.

It was not immediately known if Amiruddin was the same Abu Omar — a spokesman for the Abu Sayyaf — who was threatening to kidnap and kill local journalists critical of the terrorist group. Omar earlier warned his group would attack civilian targets in Zamboanga City and Basilan in retaliation to ongoing government operation against the Abu Sayyaf.

Cagayan de Oro Quilter wins Top Award in International Quilters Tilt

April 29, 2006 at 6:27 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

 

 The winning quilt, Mystic Beauty.

 

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Mike Banos / 29 Apr) A long-time quilter from Cagayan de Oro City in northern Mindanao held high the Philippine flag by winning first prize in her category at the 2006 AQS Quilt Show & Contest held April 26-29, at the Paducah Expo Center in Paducah, Kentucky, U.S.A. which was dominated by entries from the United States and Japan.

Myrl Lehman Tapungot's entry, "Mystic Beauty II", won first prize in the Bed Quilts Category Group – Mettler® Imported by A&E, Inc. Second was Sagacious Sisters by Sagacious Sisters, Marysville, WA while third was Flower Symphony, Aki Ueda of Aichi, Japan.

Quilters from around the world, gathered as part of the 22nd Annual AQS Quilt Show & Contest Awards Presentation held Tuesday, April 25th at the Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center, Paducah, Kentucky and webcast live on Quilters News Network.

Tapungot, who hails from Gusa village, joined 428 other quilters in the annual contest. In its 22nd year, the competition is offering $114,000 in total prize money. Her "Mystic Beauty II" quilt measures 89 inches wide by 89 inches long, and represents hundreds of hours of work.

Her entry was chosen as a semi-finalist from a field of 806 quilts and compete against others within its category (Bed Quilts) . Three quilting authorities judged the elite group prior to the opening of the show.

"Sedona Rose" by Sharon Schamber was awarded Best of Show and garnered the Hancock's of Paducah Best of Show award and a cash prize of $20,000. In addition, the quilt will become part of the permanent collection in the Museum of the American Quilter's Society.

All 429 quilts were displayed at the annual quilt exhibition which brings over 35,000 quilters, collectors, enthusiasts and vendors to Paducah each spring, which has earned it the monicker Quilt City USA.

Meredith Schroeder, AQS president, said quilts are no longer relegated to serving as mere bed covers but have evolved into works of art, using fabric and thread as the medium.

The quilts in this year's contest are from around the world and feature beautiful palettes of color. Entries arrived from 46 U.S. states and 12 other countries, including France, Israel, Korea and Australia. There were fifteen categories in the judged contest and a special category for young quilters.

The quilts include bed-size, large and small wall quilts and miniatures. Designs range from traditional Log Cabin, Mariner's Compass and New York Beauty to innovative designs using paint, threads and original designs.

50 MILF Rebels Surrender In Lanao Sur

April 29, 2006 at 3:23 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 29 Apr) At least 50 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters surrendered to the Philippine Army ahead of a scheduled peace talks next month between the government and rebel leaders after a series of negotiations in the southern province of Lanao del Sur in the Muslim autonomous region.

The rebels, led by Daud Sarif, whose nom de guerre is Commander Falcon, handed over more than 50 assorted weapons, including machine guns and M16 automatic rifles, to the military Friday, said Lt. Col. Francisco Simbajon, spokesman for the Army's 4th Infantry Division. 

"There will be some more, many MILF rebels are expected to surrender to avail of the government amnesty and start a new life," he said, adding, 1st Lt. Moracaya Macaalin, of the 26th Infantry Battalion, negotiated the rebels' surrender.

Sarif is the leader of the MILF's 206th Bade Command in the province, he said.  

The military earlier said 2 MILF soldiers, under the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces operating in eastern Mindanao, voluntarily surrendered to the 60th Infantry Battalion in Compostela Valley province. They also surrendered two M16 automatic rifles.   

Last month, the military said at least 50 MILF rebels, led by Pendi Ampatuan and Ismael Pagiloyen, also surrendered in Maguindanao province, a known rebel stronghold. It said the rebels pledged their allegiance to the government. 

But Eid Kabalu, MILF spokesman, disputed the military's claim, saying, those who surrendered were former fighters of the Moro National Liberation Front which signed a peace agreement with

Manila in September 1996. Peace talks are expected to resume next month in Malaysia, which is brokering the negotiations.  Government and rebel negotiators are likely to discuss minor details on the issue of the so-called Muslim ancestral domain.

The two groups reached an agreement in February on the ancestral domain, which refers to the MILF demand for territory that will constitute a Muslim homeland.   

The MILF said government and rebel peace negotiators have already agreed on several crucial issues, including the coverage of the ancestral domain in the five Muslim autonomous provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao.  

And other areas in Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani provinces where there are large communities of Muslims and indigenous tribes. 

Zamboanga Journal Signs Up With E-World Career Center To Provide Scholarship For Journalists

April 28, 2006 at 11:51 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

 

Zamboanga Journal Editor-in-Chief Al Jacinto and E-World Career Center Corp., Manager Juvy de Jesus sign a memorandum of understanding that will provide scholarship grants for journalists and poor high school students in Zamboanga City.

 

ZAMBOANGA CITY — The online newspaper Zamboanga Journal has entered into a memorandum of undestanding Friday with the E-World Career Center Corporation to provide scholarship grants to local journalists. 

At least 5 journalists from different newspaper and radio and television stations would be given short courses training every month from the basic computer operation to the more advanced Macromedia Dream weaver and other related education. 

"This is more of a partnership between the Zamboanga Journal and E-World Career Center Corporation to help our journalists be more literate in computer education and competitive in their field." 

"We are trying to provide fellow journalists free access to computer education through this partnership with E-World Career Center Corporation. This is public service," said Al Jacinto, editor-in-chief of Zamboanga Journal, now on its fourth month.

At least 60 journalists are expected to benefit from the scholarship grants during the first year of the trainings. E-World is one of Zamboanga City's leading global providers of computer education.  "We look forward to provide our students with the best computer training education, and we are proud to be a partner of the Zamboanga Journal," said Juvy de Jesus, E-World center manager.  

De Jesus said E-World offers a variety of short courses training designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills in Information Technology. "Our courses are also intended for corporate clients who have specialized training needs. We can customize any specific requirements for our clients or companies," she said.  Jacinto said the scholarship grants are also open to deserving high school students, who wanted to learn, but cannot afford to pay the cost of the training. "We will help not only deserving journalists, but students as well, those who really wanted to learn," he said. Zamboanga Journal came about at first, just as a public service weblog after a photo session in December 24, 2005 in Lumbangan, a small village east of Zamboanga City, where the government garbage depot is located.  

There were children, old men and women, digging through a mountain of garbage and picking up pieces of rotten vegetables and meat already covered with maggots. Help never came, not even from local politicians.  

From a public service weblog, it soon became the online newspaper called the Zamboanga Journal, and friends and journalists from different parts of Mindanao and Manila have pledged to help it run and turn the Zamboanga Journal into a tool to help the less fortunate, particularly the children and old people in Lumbangan garbage dump, and other slum communities in Zamboanga City.

Salmon!…Salmon!

April 28, 2006 at 4:52 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

 

A man pushes his cart to market in the southern Philippine port city of Zamboanga to sell salmons. The high cost of fuel and basic commodities in the Philippines have made it more dificult for fishermen and traders to sell their goods. (Zamboanga Journal)

MILF Soldiers Yield In Southern RP

April 28, 2006 at 3:39 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 28 Apr) Two members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) surrendered to the military in the southern Philippines, ahead of the resumption of peace talks next month between the Filipino government and the country's largest Muslim separatist rebel group, officials said Friday.

Officials said the Suharto Samaon Dagandal, 26; and Abdul Karim Manalao, 25, surrendered voluntarily to the Army's 60th Infantry Battalion in the province of Compostela Valley, a known stronghold of the communist New People's Army (NPA).

"The duo are being interrogated, but we welcome their surrender and we expect more rebels to yield, especially those who wanted to return to the folds of the law and live peacefully with their families," said Lt. Col. Francisco Simbajon, a spokesman for the Army's 4th Infantry Division.

Simbajon did not when the two men surrendered, saying, interrogation is still going on. He said the two rebels, under the MILF's Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces operating in eastern Mindanao, also surrendered two M16 automatic rifles. "They handed over the MILF weapons," Simbajon said.

Eid Kabalu, a rebel spokesman, doubted whether the Dagadal and Manalao were MILF members. "We doubt if they are really MILF soldiers because there is no reason to surrender. There is a truce in Mindanao and there are peace talks between the MILF and the government, and the negotiations are strong," he said.

The military said the duo were natives of Asuncion town in Davao del Norte province and were under MILF leader Yasser Adona, chief of the BIAF's Eastern Davao Revolutionary Committee.

Last month, the military said at least 50 MILF rebels, led by Pendi Ampatuan and Ismael Pagiloyen, also surrendered in Maguindanao province, a known rebel stronghold. It said the rebels pledged their allegiance to the government.

But Kabalu disputed the military claim, saying, those who surrendered were former fighters of the Moro National Liberation Front which signed a peace agreement with Manila in September 1996.

Peace talks are expected to resume next month in Malaysia, which is brokering the negotiations.

Government and rebel negotiators are likely to discuss minor details on the issue of the so-called Muslim ancestral domain. The two groups reached an agreement in February on the ancestral domain, which refers to the MILF demand for territory that will constitute a Muslim homeland.

The MILF said government and rebel peace negotiators have already agreed on several crucial issues, including the coverage of the ancestral domain in the five Muslim autonomous provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao.

And other areas in Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani provinces where there are large communities of Muslims and indigenous tribes.

Mining Firm Embarks On Human Rights Training For Site Security

April 28, 2006 at 1:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

 

 One of the seven batches of SCAA personnel undergoing Human Rights training, a joint undertaking of TVIRD, AFP Southern Command and the Commission on Human Rights.

 

ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE (Roche Hilario / 28 Apr) Human rights take a front seat in the ongoing training of Special Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit Active Auxiliary (SCAA) personnel assigned by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to secure the Canatuan Project of TVI Resource Development Phils., Inc. (TVIRD) in Siocon town in Zamboanga del Norte province in western Mindanao.

In a joint activity with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) –- a “first” for both the Commission and the industry –- TVI has embarked on a special training program to ensure heightened sensitization of Human Rights issues and management on the part of security personnel.

“The emphasis on human rights in this training series is intended to reinforce the basic human rights training the SCAA personnel initially had with the AFP and progress towards instilling a deeper commitment to serve and to protect,” Ed Coronel, TVIRD Social Commitment Director, said. “We think this is part of Responsible Mining, and Best Practices.”

The training program also seeks to prepare the company when it implements the Voluntary Principles concepts being advanced jointly by the governments of the USA, UK, Norway, and the Netherlands; by a number of major global corporations; and by a number of international NGOs such as Amnesty International.

The objective is to take every measure possible to ensure that human rights are protected at the same time that TVIRD’s people and property are protected. Discussions are under way with the Principles’ Secretariat (jointly managed by the Prince of Wales’ International Business Leaders Forum and the US-based Business for Social Responsibility) to identify circumstances under which TVIRD and its international company, TVI Pacific, Inc., can participate in the Principles, even before Canada has become a signatory.

Divided into seven batches, all 167 SCAA personnel in Canatuan and TVIRD’s seven security managers are participants in the three-phase training program. Phase 1, conducted by Jose Maria Perez of the Action for Social Progress Inc. last month.

It focused on topics such as reinforcement of discipline values, the security function’s role in environmental protection and community relations, the rights of indigenous peoples as articulated in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, the rights and responsibilities of a SCAA recruit as a Subanon.

Raul Quibuyen, CHR's Legal Officer and Armando Borromeo, Education & Research Chief, are among the resource speakers in the weeklong seminar that started April 22.

Included in the seminar are topics on the Bill of Rights, criminal procedures, International Humanitarian Law, and the Philippine Human Rights Enforcement System.

SCAA units assigned to Canatuan are under the direct control and supervision of the 1st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and in accordance with AFP rules and regulations.

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