ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 31 Oct) – A grenade explosion had killed two people and injured 7 more in the troubled southern Philippine port city of Zamboanga, police and military reports said.
Reports said an ex-Marine soldier, Ben Rivera, detonated the grenade inside a billiard hall near Putik village and were among those wounded in the blast late Monday.
Police said the man was seen arguing with several people before he allegedly pulled the grenade and detonated inside the jam-packed hall.
The military said the blast was not connected to terrorism and that the police are still investigating the incident.
More than a dozen people, mostly policemen and soldiers, had been killed in a series of gun attacks blamed to the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group in Zamboanga City the past weeks.
Zamboanga City had been previously bombed by the Abu Sayyaf and was tagged as behind the spate of kidnappings mostly for ransom.(With a report from Uly Israel)
ZAMBOANGA CITY (Darwin Wee / 30 Oct) – Traders in the southern Philippine port city of Zamboanga expressed alarm Monday over the spate of killings they say has effected the business climate.
The number of senseless killings has increased significantly over the recent months. Just the past two weeks, about a dozen people had been killed in gun attacks in Zamboanga, bringing the death toll to more than 70 since early this year.
“The situation is very alarming. The authorities may be trying their best, but the public, especially the business group here is not happy with the rising crime rate,” business leader Arsenio L. Gonzalez, Jr., told the Mindanao Examiner.
Mr. Gonzalez, who is the current director of the Zamboanga Economic Zone, said investors will shy away if killings continue unabated in Zamboanga City.
Most of the killings remain unsolved and police blamed the attacks on hired killers and family feud.
Early this month, Charles Mesina, manager of Kingstown Sardines factory, was shot dead by a suspected policeman while traveling on his way home. Gunmen also killed a business couple Joseph Quijano and his wife Erlinda in an attack just outside their house in Zamboanga.
Another Chinese trader identified only as Huang was also shot dead last week in downtown Zamboanga.
“What makes these incidents even more alarming is that the authorities themselves are baffled over the spate of killings, as if nobody is on top of the situation.”
“We are urging the local government and our security forces to beef up there intelligence gathering. It will somehow mellow down the public fear. Authorities should track down and arrest the culprits immediately,” Mr. Gonzales said.
But Mayor Celso L. Lobregat said most of the reported crimes here had been resolved. “I have met with the business sector and I explained to them that as a mayor I am most concerned about these incidents, he said in a separate interview.
He said most of the killings here were believed to be connected with feud and personal grudge. He also ordered the police to put up checkpoints and road blocks and to strictly implement the campaign on illegal weapons.
Mr. Lobregat also announced that Supt. Mario Yanga was appointed as temporary chief of the local police force replacing Supt. Francisco Cristobal.
Yanga is also the regional police operations chief and a former head of the Zamboanga City Police Office. “My directive to Supt. Yanga is to strictly implement the gun ban in the city and to conduct round-the-clock inspections on all checkpoints in the city,” he said. (Mindanao Examiner)
A beggar uses a baby to ask for money in the busy downtown area in Zamboanga City in South RP. (Mindanao Examiner)
ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 29 Oct) – A policeman was killed in a daring broad daylight attack Sunday near downtown Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines, police said.
Police said the victim, SPO1 Rodrigo Deza, was on a motorcycle when shot in the head shortly before 1 p.m. along Nunez Road. Witnesses told the police that they saw two motorcycle gunmen tailed the cop and one of them shot him from behind.
“He was shot in the head. We already have suspects,” Supt. Jose Gucela, Zamboanga’s deputy police chief, told reporters without further elaborating.
Police investigators said they have recovered 6 empty shells of .45-caliber pistol from the scene.
Deza’s 9mm pistol was missing, they said, but his M16 automatic rifle was recovered by the police.
On Friday, a government soldier, Sgt. Carlito Alvarez, and a Muslim employee of the Air Transportation Office, Abdulgafar Udin, were killed in separate attacks Zamboanga City.
Police the soldier was on motorcycle when he was shot several times in the head at around 6 p.m. along Jaldon Road near downtown Zamboanga. Udin was shot in the chest at least 13 times.
On Thursday evening, an unidentified gunman also killed a Chinese trader identified only as Huang in downtown Zamboanga City. Prior to the killing, two policemen were also shot dead in separate attacks in Zamboanga.
On Monday, a soldier and his civilian companion were also killed inside their apartment in Sta. Maria village, about 2 km from downtown area. Police said all the killers escaped on motorcycles.
More than 200 people had been killed in violent attacks and summary executions in Zamboanga City the past years. (Mindanao Examiner)
ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 28 Oct) The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has widened a ban on shellfish, initially imposed on Sorsogon bay earlier this month, to seven more areas in seven provinces throughout the country, according to RSOE Havaria alert Saturday.
The widening of the area covered by the ban came as two more children died of shellfish poisoning and 12 other persons were hospitalized here.
In its latest advisory, the BFAR said the other areas affected by the red tide phenomenon are Juan Lagoon in Matnog, Sorsogon and the coastal waters of Milagros, Masbate; Siaton in Negros Oriental; Dumanquillas Bay, Zamboanga del Sur; Balite Bay in Mati, Davao Oriental; Irong-Irong Bay, Samar; and Bislig Bay in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur.
Gil Adora, head of BFAR’s technical services, said in the advisory that shellfish and “alamang” (tiny shrimps) from these areas were not safe for human consumption.
The ban on shellfish from Sorsogon Bay was imposed on October 11 after authorities confirmed the presence of high levels of red tide toxin in its waters. A week before this, three children had died of apparent red tide poisoning.
The latest victims were brothers Mark John, 7, and Judel, 3, Jesalva, who died late Friday night at the Fernando Duran Sr. Memorial Hospital. The victims’ five other siblings aged 5 to 14, and their parents, were still under observation in the hospital.
Despite this, residents of coastal villages have continued to ignore the ban on the gathering, selling and consumption of shellfish from Sorsogon Bay.
Serafin Lacdang, head of the provincial fishery section, said coastal residents were still eating “tahong” (mussels) and other shellfish despite repeated warnings. “Many of these people ignore the risks just so they would have something to eat,” he admitted. (RSOE Havaria International)
SAN FRANCISCO, USA (Jeremaiah Opiniano / 28 Oct) – Are more Filipinos here coming out to explore the belly of the beast legally?In view of American officials’ moves to squeeze out illegal migrants in the name of homeland security, Philippine government data swing to the affirmative node.
The figures show the number of Filipinos “in hiding” – Tago ng tago (TNT) in local parlance– have dropped sharply.This is what the multiple-year stock estimates of overseas Filipinos from 1997 to 2005, from Philippine government agency Commission on Filipinos Overseas revealed: there was a high of 1,913,941 undocumented migrants in 1998, and a “record-low” of 881,123 last year.
Looking at regional data that the CFO gave to the OFW Journalism Consortium, North, South American and Trust Territory countries –including the US– had the most drop of irregular migrants.These countries have a total of 357,923 irregulars, down by 589,047 from the 1997 figure of 946,970, the CFO estimates.
The US had the most reductions of irregular migrants in the stock estimates data: from a high of 844,046 in 1998, undocumented Filipino migrants went down to 157,998.Striking in the US figure was that the estimates were 510,000 in 2003, and 350,000 in 2004, the CFO record says.
The reduction of the figures in the US comes before the heated debate among American legislators on the immigration question, which began in the first quarter of the year. Several bills seen to slash benefits to non-American workers in the US Senate and House of Representatives did not meet Congress’ October 1 deadline, thus these bills go back to zero when Congress resumes sessions after the November 7 US elections.
Thus, a “good news” perspective could mean there’re more Filipinos here working or living temporarily or permanently with all documents certified legal and have been registered as so in over-90 Philippine diplomatic posts.However, the figures themselves remain debatable: how could a government agency document the number of people it says are “undocumented”?
Likewise, some analysts say the reduction in the number of illegal migrants could mean an increase in the number of them deported back to the Philippines. The sharp reduction in the number of Filipinos migrating here sans legal documents reflects global trends, based on the CFO data.
For example, in Malaysia, where Sabah island is believed the common route for irregular migration, the CFO cited a drop in the number of undocumented Filipinos to 125,000 last year from half a million six years ago.
The drop came after the Malaysian government cracked down on irregular migrants in 2002.If the year-on-year reduction figure for the US is 192,000, the CFO registered a reduction in Malaysia of 175,000 based on an estimated 300,000 undocumented Filipinos in that country in 2004.
The CFO listed other countries with large numbers of undocumented migrants as of last year include France (40,105), Singapore (37,600), Japan (30,619), Israel (23,000), Italy (20,000), and the United Arab Emirates (20,000).East and South Asian countries —including Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, and Korea— is another regional hub of irregular migration that got a significant drop: the 2005 figure of 238,238 is 496,109 less than the year 2000 estimates of 734,347.
Lawyer Golda Roma of the CFO’s Planning and Policy Research division says estimates of both undocumented and documented temporary contract workers and immigrants come from Philippine diplomatic posts abroad, and records from homeland-based agencies involved in managing migration outflow.
What CFO does, Roma says, is “cross-check these data from the posts”.Countries like the US have figures coming from host countries’ census offices, while the other data come from passport registrants in diplomatic posts, records for assistance to nationals program, travel documents, and even meetings with members of Filipino communities in host countries.
Roma said there is no precise figure in coming up with those estimates of undocumented Filipino migration, yet she says it should be “at least 20 percent of the total number of overseas Filipinos”.
The 2005 stock estimates show there are 7,924,188 overseas Filipinos –3,651,727 temporary contract workers, 3,391,338 permanent residents, and the 881,123 who are undocumented. Maruja Asis of the Scalabrini Migration Center in Quezon City said the drop in the number of who are called undocumented, illegal or irregular Filipino migrants –from 1,913,941 in 1998 to 881,123 last year– should “not reflect changes in between-years”.
It [the numbers drop] should note efforts related to curbing such migration flows in host countries, Asis said in a phone interview.That is the danger of citing numbers, she added.“Once it is pronounced, this figure is cited over and over again and says it is reduced.”
Still, San Francisco Consul-General Rowena Sanchez thinks the return of undocumented migrants is still “good news, because these individuals can then be able to get their jobs back home, to save, and go on with their regular lives”.
Sanchez is one of six heads of diplomatic posts in the United States, home to an estimated 10.5 million undocumented migrants (including 210,000 Filipinos) in 2005 according to an August report by the Department of Homeland Security.Sanchez said the deportations from here last May are “usual” as the US sends home Filipinos jailed for crimes.
“Some were caught during immigration raids,” Sanchez says, toeing the official US law enforcement line on these cases.In recent months and after protests against US immigration reform bills, the raids have died down, especially here in San Francisco or the whole of Northern California.
Even if Asis thinks that arriving at estimates about the number of migrants in general is difficult, officials of government-run offices handling migrant outflow say the drop of illegal migration is “good news” on their part, and for undocumented migrants as well.
Good then, says Asis —and for now, “the temporary postures are ‘there seems to be a reduction to the number of irregular migrants’ or ‘there could be some reduction’”.
But Asis said those making “multiple-year comparisons” over stock estimates of the global Filipino presence are ignoring one factor: “These data do not reflect the changes in between.” Roma and Asis think the reduction of undocumented migrants is a function of laws in host countries, deportations or repatriation drives, regularization and migrant amnesty programs, and other immigration-related occurrences.
An exception is the strife in Lebanon where government officials said some two-thirds of those coming home are undocumented domestic workers.
Malaysia’s periodic deportations of Filipinos from Sabah to Zamboanga peninsula (southern Philippines) have resulted into some 326 deportations last April, and over-30,000 in total since August 2002, reports SunStar Zamboanga last April 11.
This continuous deportation is “seen in the reports of the post in the last few years,” says Roma.But providing amnesty to undocumented migrants, Asis said, “is not for a long time” –and its shelf life is two years.
She noted that the reduction of the number of undocumented migrants in the US could be traced to Washington’s employment permit system.
Apart from Malaysia’s repatriation drives, Korea and Japan had their own drives from 2002 to 2003, says Asis, citing her center’s periodic monitoring of undocumented migration news and data.
Asis, a migration scholar who also edited a book about unauthorized migration in Southeast Asia, said Thailand had instigated a registration system for illegal workers (including Filipinos) to regularize their stay.
It is East Asian countries Malaysia, Thailand and Korea where the problem of unauthorized migration is serious, Asis wrote in a December 2005 article for the Asia-Pacific Population Journal this regularization trend is also seen in Italy.
“You can stay and work there for a certain period of time, but the legal workers’s status is subject to renewal,” Asis explains.Regularizing irregular immigrants is also a recent phenomenon in Spain and Greece, but these incentives “are very specific and do not come often”, says Asis.
But what worries Asis is that as countries tighten their immigration laws and borders, there is increasing demand to continually send migrants through unauthorized means, including trafficking and smuggling women and children. “Something’s got to give here.”
NEGROS ISLAND – A bilateral investment and trade meeting held between the Philippine and Chinese chambers of commerce resulted in the island state attracting several ethanol investments from its giant neighbor, a report by the Brussels-based Biopact.com said.
It said President Gloria Arroyo was trying to attract foreign investments in the sector and that after months of vivid debates, the Philippines recently finalized its bio-fuels legislation.
Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said the Philippines and China will sign two memoranda of understanding and a memorandum of agreement on the setting up of three ethanol fuel plants in the country, which will involve the development of thousands of hectares of land for sugar cane.
Earlier research indicated that the island state has considerable potential to develop a sugar cane based bio-energy industry large enough to export fuels.
The MOUs, Biopact says, will cover the construction of two ethanol plants in Negros Island in the central Philippines (maximum output capacity of respectively 120,000 and 150,000 liters per day) will be entered into by the Philippine government and the China Machines Engineering Corp. Some 10,000 to 12,000 hectares of land will be developed for the projects.
Meanwhile, the MOA seeks to construct a 150,000-liter a day ethanol plant in Zamboanga del Norte province in the southern Philippines, Yap said.
The MOU’s on ethanol investments and cooperation are part of a larger package consisting of 10 agreements, covering a range of sectors, from mining, tourism and fisheries to culture and banking. Between 2001 and 2005, Philippine trade with China grew at an annual rate of 41.9 percent.
The Philippines-Chinese agreements signal a continued drive towards greater South-South exchanges in the bio-energy sector. The Biopact is connective of European and African citizens who strive towards the establishment of a mutually beneficial ‘energy relationship’ based on bio-fuels and bio-energy.
For the time being, Biopact is an entirely volunteer effort, but the young organization is working towards formalization under a non-profit structure because of growing interest in its activities and its vision. (Mindanao Examiner)
TAWI-TAWI (Uly Israel / 28 Oct) – Security forces captured a suspected sub-leader of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group in this southern Philippine island, a local government executive told the Mindanao Examiner.
The Abu Sayyaf man was arrested in Lamyon village in the capital town of Bongao last week.
Three more Abu Sayyaf members are being hunted in Tawi-Tawi for their involvements in the string of terror attacks in the troubled region.
The official did not give details about the captured terror leader, saying, it could jeopardize the ongoing military operation on the island.
The United States and the European Union have included the Abu Sayyaf on the list of foreign terrorists.
The Abu Sayyaf is believed to be hiding three members of the Jemaah Islamiah, the Southeast Asian conduit of the al-Qaeda terror network.
Abu Sayyaf chieftain Khadaffy Janjalani, JI members Dulmatin and Umar Patek and some other foreign terrorists were the target of a military operation in the jungles of Jolo island since August 1.
The US State department has offered $10 million (Dh36.7 million) for the arrest of Dulmatin, $1 million (Dh3.67 million) for Janjalani, and $1 million for Patek. (Mindanao Examiner)
ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 27 Oct) – A government soldier was killed in an ambush Friday in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines, police said.
Police the soldier was on motorcycle when he was shot at around 6 p.m. along Jaldon Road near downtown Zamboanga. He was killed instantly.
One witness said he heard five gunshots. “I heard five gunshots. It’s all I can say,” he told reporters at the scene.
Police investigators did not identify the soldier, but said he was shot in the head probably from a .45-caliber pistol. His firearm is missing.
No individual or group claimed responsibility for the latest killing, the second on Friday.An unidentified gunman also shot dead earlier Friday a Muslim man, Abdulgafar Udin, near the Zamboanga airport.
Police said the victim was an employee of the Air Transportation Office and on his way to work when shot in the chest 13 times.
Just Thursday, a Chinese trader identified only as Huang, was shot and killed in downtown Zamboanga City. Prior to the killing, two policemen were also shot dead in separate attacks in Zamboanga.
On Monday, a soldier and his civilian companion were also killed inside their apartment in Sta. Maria village, about 2 km from downtown area. More than 200 people had been killed in violent attacks and summary executions in Zamboanga City the past years. (Mindanao Examiner)
La ciudad de Zamboanga, apenas calificada recientemente como ciudad latina de Asia, ahora es el convertirse rápido como ciudad del crimen de Asia. Con las matanzas casi diarias, quién desea venir a Zamboanga?
Las embajadas en Manila han advertido a sus ciudadanos que no viajen a la ciudad de Zamboanga debido a la serie de matanzas de civiles inocentes y los problemas de levantamiento de la criminalidad y las amenazas planteados por el grupo al-Qaeda-ligado de Abu Sayyaf y su afiliado el Jemaah Islamiya.
Los políticos en la ciudad de Zamboanga son rápidos culpar al policía por las matanzas. Dicen a policía no podido para poner terminantemente la interdicción en las armas ilegales y la carencia en ejecución de los bloques y de los puntos de comprobación del camino.
Los muchos de la culpa de los políticos de gente, pero no se culpan por todos estos apuros. Están siempre ocupados promoviéndose. Los periódicos locales son el convertirse como los boletines de noticias y los diarios de políticos – con sus fotos y porciones de sacudidas de la mano y blah, blah!
Incluso no ahorran a los periodistas. Sobornan algunos y corrompen algunos. Pero, el dinero que recibieron no es bastante uniforme comprarlos una buena cena, y todo el éstos a cambio de su dignidad.
Las carteleras de los políticos que promueven éstos y ésos también se exhiben prominente en áreas ocupadas en Zamboanga.Incluso el departamento y los almacenes de la tienda de comestibles no se ahorran – por supuesto todo el éstos están en guised de decir a la gente sobre sus proyectos y programas! Ululación, pueden encontrar siempre una manera. (Mindanao Examiner)