ZAMBOANGA CITY (Ulysses Israel / 31 Aug) Zamboanga City takes center stage Thursday as it hosts the 15th Mindanao Business Conference wherein Mindanao’s economic and business leaders will sell Zamboanga Peninsula and the island of Mindanao as the next investment destination for foreign investors looking for expansion in the Southeast Asian Region.
“We would like to strategically position Zamboanga and Mindanao in the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines –East Asia Growth Area) region and we would like to project a positive image to the world,” Romeo J. Serra, 15th MinBizCon conference chairman, told the Mindanao Examiner.
“There’s a lot of going in Mindanao, especially in Zamboanga,” he said, as he pointed out that though the region may be suffering from “a negative image”, now is the time to come and see for them selves what the region has to offer.
The three-day 15th MinBizCon celebrates the theme:” Mindanao: The Best of the Philippines”.
Aside from featuring the product winners that Mindanao has to offer, the conference will put forward a more dynamic interaction of key players from both public and private sector on key priorities for Mindanao such as greater awareness for a federal system of government, revitalization of the minerals industry and strengthening the small and medium enterprises.
Expected to attend are business leaders and economic managers from the country as well as foreign investors from Japan, Canada, China, Australia, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Italy, and countries of the ASEAN region.
According to Serra, who is also the chairman of the Mindanao Business Council (MBC) and the vice-president of Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) for Mindanao, the island can boast of tourism destinations that have never been tapped but are comparable to world-class tourist spots like Boracay.
The business sector, he said, is confident that Zamboanga region will get the attention it deserves being strategically located in the BIMP-EAGA region and rich in mineral resources.
“If you look at the map, you can see that Zamboanga City is strategically located in the BIMP-EAGA region, and the location itself will lure the investors. Add to that is its being a resource rich region,” he said.
He said the MBC is advocating for the revitalization of the minerals industry considered as the “hope of the Philippine economy”.
“We have touched only the surface” as far as exploitation of the vast mineral resources in Mindanao is concerned, he said.
He said Mindanao is host to about 60 percent of the country’s total mineral deposits. Zamboanga Peninsula is currently hosting one of the largest mining operations in the country.
The Canadian-mining firm TVI Resource and Development is currently operating mining gold and silver in Canatuan Mountain in Siocon town in Zamboanga del Norte. The Canadian firm has been operating since 1997.
He said mining is one of the concerns that will dominate discussions during the business summit.
Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines Peter Henrie Sutherland will be one of the key speakers in the opening ceremony to be held today in the afternoon.
There are at least three mining-related topics that are scheduled for discussion, namely: Mining Prospects in Mindanao: Where and What by Graciano P. Yumul, Jr. Undersecretary of the Department of Science and Technology; Mineral Development and the Mindanao Economy by Paul G. Domiguez, president of Sagitarius Mines; and Sustainable and Responsible Mining in Mindanao by Florencio Kennedy Coronel, director of Social Commitment of TVI Pacific, Inc.
Another major industry that will be given priority during the business conference, Serra said, is the seaweeds industry.
The Mindanao Business Council has partnered with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group, he said, to rehabilitate and strengthen the seaweeds industry in Zamboanga Peninsula.
He said the IFC has put up an office in Davao City to closely work with the stakeholders of the seaweeds industry in Mindanao, including the island provinces of Basilan, Tawi-tawi and Sulu where seaweed farming has recently been flourishing.
He revealed that IFC has hired a seaweed expert to become the consultant for the project. He said Mindanao supplies 80 percent of the country’s total raw materials of seaweeds and also supplies 60 percent of the world’s total production.
The primary objective of the project, he said, is the ultimate development of the seaweed industry and the setting up of seaweed processing plant in Zamboanga City.
This backward and forward integration of the seaweeds business operations will have to take into account the role of the seaweed farmers who are presently being placed at a disadvantage position.
The concerns of the seaweeds industry will also be one of the major focuses of discussion during the plenary dialogue in the MinBizCon, he said.
Three suspected members of the Moro Islamic Liberation arrested for allegedly transporting improvised explosive devices in Maguindanao province are facing criminal charges. Police Supt. Roberto Torres Badian, head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, identified the trio as Wahab “Mike” Sandigan, 34, alias Wahab Ramalan, left; Radzak Macarimbang, 46, center, and Sammy Gapong, 26. (Mark Navales)
Donald Dee, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, right, and Celso Lobregat, mayor of Zamboanga City, try out scooters at the booth of the Malaysian motorcycle manufacturing firm, Demak Motor, during the opening Thursday 31 Aug 2006 of the 15th Mindanao Business Conference in Zamboanga City. (Darwin Wee)
ZAMBOANGA CITY (Darwin Wee / 31 Aug) Asian trade representatives and Filipino businessmen flocked Thursday to Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines for the 15th Mindanao Business Conference.The 3-day international conference is expected to generate millions of revenues from its trade exhibits, where dozens of stalls and booths were on display at the convention center of the Garden Orchid Hotel.
“This will promote our products and help put back Zamboanga again in its old glory; a trading hub and tourist destination in this part of the Philippines,” Ismael Ajijul, a Muslim trader, who sells hand-woven Yakan cloth, told the Mindanao Examiner.
Mayor Celso Lobregat, of Zamboanga City , boasted of high economic growth the past years, citing government reports, but statistics were not readily made available. He also said the improved peace and order situation here continue to attract investors.
“We have a lot of investments here. Zamboanga has a very sound economy and there are many new establishments. The peace and order is very good and we are happy about these all,” he said.
The influential Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo, Sharif Ibrahim Ajibul Mohammad Pulalun, is also expected to attend the conference to welcome the delegates and promote the Sulu Archipelago, which comprises of Basilan, Jolo and Tawi-Tawi islands as a trading exchange and investment destinations.
“We have a lot to offer. The archipelago is rich in natural resources, like minerals and oil deposits. Tawi-Tawi is a beautiful tourist destination and the whole of the Sulu Archipelago is one place to invest, such as in palm plantation, oil exploration and many more.”
“Basilan and Jolo are great places and rich in timber and coconuts and coffee and marine resources; and our culture and heritage are similarly wealthy. We welcome you in our exotic land, ” Pulalun said in an interview.
Teresita Sebastian, convention director, said businessmen from Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei arrived in Zamboanga to participate in the international conference.
“Diplomatic officials from the embassies of United States, Canada , Italy, Australia and some other countries are also slated to attend the convention,” she said.
She said among the dignitaries that are expected to arrive here are Peter Henrie Sutherland, Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines; Jon Linborg, of the United States Agency for International Development.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was also invited to grace the closing ceremony on Saturday, Sebastian said.
Donald Dee, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was also in Zamboanga City yesterday and inspected different trade exhibits, including the booth of a Malaysian motorcycle manufacturing firm, Demak Motor, which has an assembly factory here.
“We expect more than 1,000 businessmen from around Asia and others involved in economic activities and studies in this 3-day conference,” she said.
The BIMP-EAGA (Brunei, Indonesia , Malaysia and the Philippines-East Asean Growth Area) Business Council also joined the conference.
Sebastian said the participants will discuss major issues and concerns affecting key Mindanao investments to facilitate and hasten trade within the region, and the BIMP-EAGA with other trading partners.
Muslims in Jolo island during a joint RP-US military humanitarian mission Wednesday 30 Aug 2006. (Mindanao Examiner)
JOLO ISLAND (Mindanao Examiner / 30 Aug) Hundreds of Muslim villagers, many children and women, greeted US and RP soldiers Wednesday as they distribute humanitarian aid in least two towns in Jolo island torn by fighting between security and Abu Sayyaf forces.
The crowd cheered as the soldiers drove in a convoy of trucks, armored and jeeps to Indanan town, scene of fierce battle since last month. “They are here, they are here, the Americans are here, yeah, welcome Joe,” a teenager shouted, as he flashed a victory sign while the convoy passed.
US troops in full battle gear were untiringly waiving and smiling to the huge crowd as if they had come back from war. “Wow, this is great. The people are friendly and warm. We love them,” one US soldier, said.
Timhar Aluk, a farmer, said he brought along his 7 children and two wives, just to see the American soldiers in person.
American and Filipino soldiers were in Indanan town and they distributed school bags and other supplies to children and women. Senior military and government officials also held a ground breaking ceremony signaling the start of P52-million development projects on the island.
“We heard a lot of good things about the white men. They give medicines and build school and renovate mosques in our land, they say; and they are also active in humanitarian works. We hope they would stay here much longer because we need them to help us and fight the bad people up there in the mountains, the Abu (Sayyaf),” he said.
Soldiers distributing school supplies were overwhelmed by cheering children. Some soldiers even told fairytale stories to the young and the old alike. “We are here to help the people,” said Lt. Col. Mike Halbig, of the US Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTFP).
Before coming to Indanan, the soldiers, accompanied by the governor of the island Benjamin Loong, inaugurated the area coordination center in Panamao town. A US helicopter also unloaded fresh humanitarian supplies, including sewing machines donated by the Yokohama International Baptist Church in Japan.
“Now that the AFP has assured the security in western Sulu, we can commence these critically needed quality of life improvements for the people of Sulu,” said Col. James Linder, commander of JSOTFP.
In March, a suspected Jemaah Islamiya bomb exploded inside a three-storey Jolo cooperative marketplace, killing five people and wounding 22 others. The US military is now helping in the renovation of the building, Linder said.
“Thousands of citizens will benefit from new roadways, wells, schools and medical center improvements, and the renovation of the Jolo cooperative marketplace,” he said.
Two more area coordination centers will also start construction in the town of Indanan. The centers, funded by the US Pacific Command, offer the community a place for livelihood training, community gatherings and communication hubs.
“It is an exciting time in Sulu. The deserving people of Sulu have chosen peace and prosperity for their future and a better life for themselves and their children. The people see how prosperity can thrive in an environment when it is safe from threat of transnational terrorists.”
“This development will bring jobs, better educational opportunities and better medical care for these communities, something the Abu Sayyaf group and the JI cannot offer,” Linder said.
Lt. Col. Jim McAllister said more projects are underway to help bring back peace on the island. “The people have distanced themselves from the lawless and terrorist elements that once lived in their communities,” he said.
THE PILLAR: In Mindanao, Avelino Malagiouk Acoymo, a veteran Muslim journalist known widely as “Bapa Vel,” is the chief editor of the newspaper Kota Wato Express in Cotabato City. Bapa Vel started his career in 1967 as radio broadcaster and then worked also in television news and eventually ended as one of the most respected writer in the southern region. Bapa Vel still uses the old reliable typewriter. And in Manila, another senior journalist popularly known as Manong, below, still covers the defense beat in Camp Emilio Aguinaldo. (Mark Navales)
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KABASALAN, Zamboanga Sibugay (Mindanao Examiner / 29 Aug) Troops clashed with communist insurgents and killed a still undetermined number of gunmen in the southern Philippines, officials said.
The clash occurred in the village of Napo in the coastal town of Aurora in Zamboanga del Sur province and spread near Durano village in Kapatagan, a town west of Lanao del Norte province on Monday, Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro, a military spokesman, said.
“Undetermined number of insurgents is believed killed and soldiers recovered a .30-caliber machine gun and four M16 automatic rifles and one M203 grenade launcher,” Bacarro said, adding, there were no military casualties.
Maj. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, a regional military commander, on Monday ordered soldiers to intensify their hunt against the New People’s Army, blamed for the string of attacks and raids on army posts in the restive region.
Last week, insurgents raided an army detachment in the village of Banlag in Valencia City near Bukidnon province, killed a soldier and seized 30 assorted weapons.
The New People’s Army is fighting the past three decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. The New People’s Army boasts of more than 10,000 armed regulars, but the military estimates it at around 7,500.
Another NPA faction also raided last week a small village called Buayan in Kabasalan town east of Zamboanga City and took 14 people hostage for two hours before releasing them unharmed.
Town officials said the insurgents took food from the locals and ransacked a house before escaping to the hills.
The province is a known lair of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which broke off peace talks with Manila in 2004 after the United States and the European Union tagged the CPP and the NPA and their political arm the National Democratic Front as foreign terrorist organizations on the Filipino government’s prodding.
Since then, sporadic clashes escalated in the countryside and the rebels said they would only return to the peace talks if the US and European Union removed them from the terror lists. President Arroyo has ordered the military to crush the NPA and even set aside one billion pesos for the military and police to help fight insurgency.
Philippine Army Brig. Gen. Edgardo M. Gurrea, left, new chairman of Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, shakes hands Von Al Haq, chairman of the MILF-man of MILF-CCCH, as Malaysian Maj. Gen. Dato’ Soheimi Pahlawan bin Abbas, head of the International Monitoring Team, looks on during a recent meeting in Cotabato City. Troops and MILF forces clash Monday in Midsayap town in North Cotabato, leaving one rebel dead, security officials say. (Mark Navales)
MAGUINDANAO (Juan Magtanggol / 29 Aug) The military tightened security in the southern Philippines after a firefight erupted between soldiers and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) forces in North Cotabato’s Midsayap town, officials said Tuesday.
Officials said one rebel was killed in the fighting that broke out early Monday in the farming village of Polomugin, where MILF forces took at least 18 people hostage. The hostages were freed unharmed later in the day after peaceful negotiations by politicians.
The MILF denied rebels took hostage and said the villagers were trapped in the fighting between rebels and followers of a former guerilla leader. “There were no hostage-taking and the villagers were trapped because of the fighting between the two warring groups,” Eid Kabalu, a spokesman for the MILF, told the Mindanao Examiner.
Officials said about three dozen rebels swooped down on the Polomugin village and strafed houses, wounding two civilians.
Kabalu said the rebels were fighting the group of former MILF commander identified only as Bab. “The fighting was triggered by old feud and had nothing to do with the military,” he said.
The MILF is currently negotiating peace with Manila, but clashes between soldiers and rebels continue sporadically in some areas in the southern Philippines, with both sides accusing each other of violating a 5-year truce.
Lt. Col. Julieto Ando, a spokesman for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the military was just protecting the villagers. “The gunmen opened fire on our soldiers who were protecting the villagers, sparking armed clashes that left one attacker dead. The moment the lives of the civilians are at stake, then we will have to take whatever actions to protect the innocent,” he said in a separate interview.
The fighting broke out the same day security forces arrested three suspected MILF bombers while about to board a ferry bound for Manila at the Polloc port in Parang town in Maguindanao province. Officials said soldiers seized explosives from the three men.
Reports identified the trio as Sammy Gampong, Razak Macarimbang and Wahad Sandingan, all natives of Matanog town.
Kabalu said Gampong was an MILF member, but denied is a bomber and insisted the evidence against them were planted. “We have witnesses who will tell authorities that the suspects were unarmed. There are no explosives; authorities only planted the evidence for a still unknown reason,” he said.
The MILF on Tuesday protested the arrest and demanded that authorities free the men. “We have filed a protest with the Philippine government about the arrest of the innocent men. This is a violation of the cease-fire agreement and we will bring this matter to the peace negotiators,” Kabalu said.
Ando said civilian informants who had knowledge of a supposed terror plot led security forces in the operation to arrest the men. “The informants provided us intelligence and helped us arrest the three men, who were allegedly on a bombing mission in Manila,” he said.
Other security sources said the trio was allegedly members of the MILF’s special operations group, tagged by the military and police as behind previous bombings in the southern Philippines.
The MILF is the country’s largest Muslim rebel group which is currently negotiating peace with Manila.
The ferry was bound for Manila, but is expected to stop in the ports of Zamboanga City and Iloilo to pick up cargoes and passengers.
Kabalu assured the government that the MILF is strictly observing the truce it signed in 2001.
Authorities were also investigating whether the trio had links with the Abu Sayyaf group tied to Jemaah Islamiya. The Abu Sayyaf had previously bombed a 10,000 ton Super Ferry 14 off the Manila Bay while it was heading for Bacolod in the central Philippines on February 27, 2004.
More than 100 passengers from the 900 people onboard were killed when a fire spread to the decks. The Abu Sayyaf group claimed responsibility soon after the incident, but the government initially dismissed the claim as a “propaganda ploy”.
In March, however, a group of Abu Sayyaf members were arrested over the incident, including one man who allegedly confessed to planting the bomb.
The latest arrest coincided with earlier warnings of bombings during the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 in the United States. Authorities said the Abu Sayyaf would bomb civilian targets in Manila. The group has been blamed the Abu Sayyaf for some of the worst terror attacks in the country.
DUGANG 50 KA RMG SA akong pagsulat niining maong column, gikataho nga may dugang 50 ka mga sakop sa Regional Mobile Group (RMG) nga ipuno sa Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) aron ibutang sa mga police stations diin mahisakop ang mga tourist destinations sa dakbayan sa Sugbo. Matod pa nga ang maong mga RMG naggikan sa Sibonga ug iapod-apod sila sa mga police stations sa dakbayan sa Sugbo ilabi na sa Waterfront police station nga maoy nagbantay sa Basilica del Sto. Nino, Plaza Independencia, Malacanang Sa Sugbo, Fort San Pedro,
Colon, Magellan’s Cross ug daghan pang uban. Maayo kining maong lakang tungod kay maghatag kini og seguridad sa mga turista nga mobisita sa dakbayan sa Sugbo. Karong panahona nga ang Sugbo gikataho nga
usa sa gitarget nga hasion sa mga terorista, angay gayod nga maneguro kita nga luwas ang mga turista nga mobisita sa Sugbo aron dili sila motagam sa pagduaw sa atong lugar. Kon tukion gani pag-ayo, kining 50 ka RMG dili pa gayod igo nga gidaghanon. Pero maayo na lang kini kay sa dili gayod mapun-an ang gidaghanon sa mga tinugyanan sa balaod nga makabantay sa seguridad sa katawhan, dili lang sa mga turista kondili sa mga Sugboanon mismo. Niini, magpasalamat kita.
Diha sa Pier 3, naay daghang taxi driver nga mosugat sa mga pasahero sa barko nga mapahimuslanon kaayo sa higayon. Ilabi na gayod kon ang maong pasahero daghan og bagahe, dako ang ilang pangayoon nga bayad bugti sa ilang paghatod niini. Dili pa lang dugay nakasaksi kog panghitabo nga ingon niini. May
usa ka babaye nga pasahero sa barko gikan sa Tubigon nga nagdala og duha ka dagkong bag. Anha ra siya magpahatod sa unahan og diyotay sa Metropolitan Cathedral pero gipangayoan siya sa taxi driver og P150.00. Nangutana ang babaye kon nganong dili man nila gamiton ang ilang metrohan sa taxi. Nangatarongan ang baga og nawong nga driver nga mahal na ang gasolina. Walay molalis niana. Pero dili kana balidong katarongan aron dili nato sundon ang lagda ug sumbanan sa pagpamasahero. Kana kay may metrohan ang taxi, angay lang kanang gamiton aron patas ang tanan. Hunahunaa lang ang gilay-on sa Pier 3 paingon sa Metropolitan Cathedral. Duol ra kaayo kana pero P150.00 ang gipangayo sa taxui driver. Maayo gani kay wala gyod magpatonto ang babaye. Kinsa man ang makapitol niining maong matang sa mga taxi driver. Dili maayong pasagdan lang nga magpadayon ang ilang tinonto tungod kay dili kini makiangayon ngadto sa mga pasahero. Maayong pasabton ang mga driver nga dili nila monopoliya ang pagmahal sa presyo sa mga palaliton.
President Gloria Arroyo hands over 11 patrol car keys to Chief Superintendent Florante Baguio, regional police chief, during a ceremony Monday 28 Aug 2006 in Cagayan de Oro City. Below, the President, assisted by Rep. Constantino Jaraula, gives a P5-million check to Estralla Abid Babao, the regional education chief, for scholarship of poor students. (Dante Sudaria)
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Mike Banos / 28 Aug) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo visited Cagayan de Oro City on Monday and inaugurated the P125-million SM City shopping complex.
Arroyo also led local government officials in the ceremonial hand-over of 11 patrol cars to the regional police. Her visit coincided with the city’s celebration of the local saint.
“The President’s visit, which coincided with our fiesta, was a great boost to the city government’s drive to showcase Cagayan de Oro as a beautiful and peaceful place to live and invest to the global community,” Vicente Emano, the mayor of Cagayan de Oro, told the Mindanao Examiner.
Arroyo, he said, also witnessed the Lambagohan Festival fluvial parade at the Cagayan de Oro River aboard the River Cruise Restaurant.
“It is a great pride and honor for the Cagayanons to have no less than the President of the country as our guest during the city fiesta celebration,” Emano said.
The president assisted by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Constantino Jaraula, also handed over P5-million to the Department of Education in Northern Mindanao for scholarship of poor school children.