The complete execution of Saddam Hussein was captured by mobile phone and has appeared on numerous video platforms. An eyewitness documented in graphic details the death of the former dictator.
Saddam is shown falling trough the trap door with the noose around his neck and hanging there for several seconds. The clip ends with a close-up of the dead man´s face. (liveleak.com)
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has conveyed her and the Filipino people’s condolences to the family of former United States President Gerald Ford who died Dec. 26 at the age of 93.
“On behalf of the people and government of the Republic of the Philippines, I wish to convey my most heartfelt condolences over the passing of your husband, former President Gerald R. Ford,” President Arroyo said in a letter to former US First Lady Betty Ford.
President Arroyo said the “Filipino nation will always remember the late President not only as a true friend of the Philippines, but as a dedicated leader who led the country (the United States) through a challenging period of transition for all Americans.”
Ford became the 38th US president after the resignation in August 1974 of then President Richard Nixon following the Watergate scandal.
In her letter to the former US First Lady, President Arroyo noted that “it was through President Ford’s quiet and dignified leadership that the United States once again gathered the vigor and determination to serve as an inspiration for all freedom-loving peoples of the world.”
“Our prayers are with you and your family in this most difficult of times,” the Chief Executive told Mrs. Ford.
US EMBASSY IN MANILA, CONSULAR AGENCY IN CEBU, CLOSED ON JANUARY 2, 2007 FOR NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING IN HONOR OF PRESIDENT GERALD FORDDecember 30, 2006 at 10:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
President George W. Bush has declared Tuesday, January 2, 2007 as a National Day of Mourning in honor of the memory of President Gerald R. Ford, who passed away on December 26, 2006.
All U.S. Government Departments and Agencies will be closed that day as a mark of respect for the memory of President Ford.
The U.S. Embassy in Manila and the U.S. Consular Agency in Cebu will be closed for business on Tuesday, January 2. All interviews for U.S. scheduled for Tuesday, January 2 will be re-scheduled on Wednesday, January 3.
The U.S. Embassy is contacting all applicants to inform them of the change.
President Ford was a great man who devoted the best years of his life to serving his country. He was also a strong supporter of U.S.-Philippines relations, and served in the U.S. Navy in support of the landings in Leyte and Mindoro during World War WII.
He visited the Philippines as President in December 1975.
Funeral and memorial services for President Ford are taking place from December 29 through January 3. The United States is honored and delighted to host Vice President Noli de Castro, who will represent the Philippines at President Ford’s funeral.
MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 30 Dec) – The U.S. Embassy in Manila said convicted American soldier Lance Corporal Daniel Smith has been transferred from the Makati City Jail back to U.S. military custody.
It said the transfer of Smith to U.S. authority is consistent with the terms of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), an international bilateral agreement that is binding on both the United States and the Republic of the Philippines.
A local court ordered the U.S. Marine locked up in Makati City jail after he was found guilty December 4 of raping a Filipino woman last year at the Subic. Bay Freeport in Olongapo City.
Judge Benjamin Pozon, of the Makati Regional Trial Court, previously denied a petition by Smith’s lawyers to transfer him to the U.S. Embassy while they are still appealing the case.
Smith, 21, was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
U.S. officials said Article V, Paragraph 6 of the Visiting Forces Agreement specifies: “That custody of any United States personnel over whom the Philippines is to exercise jurisdiction shall immediately reside with the United States military authorities, if they so request, from the commission of the offense until completion of all judicial proceedings.”
They said that Smith is not a private citizen, and therefore the handling of his case is subject to the terms of the VFA.
“Lance Corporal Smith will now return to U.S. military custody in the same facility at the U.S. Embassy which he was previously held for the duration of the trial,” a U.S. Embassy statement said.
“The U.S. Government has complied throughout this case with the provisions of the VFA, which provides the framework for U.S.-Philippines cooperation on legal cases involving U.S. service members. We will continue to adhere to the provisions of the VFA in coordination with the relevant Philippine authorities,” it said.
Filipino government officials took away Smith from the Makati City jail late Friday and handed over to the U.S. Embassy. The woman raped by Smith and militant and women’s groups supporting her were angered by the move and vowed to launch street protests and file charges in court against the Philippine officials.
The U.S. military earlier suspended all joint military exercises scheduled for next year because of the court’s refusal to hand over Smith to the Embassy. (Mindanao Examiner)
ZAMBOANGA CITY (Samuel Tanjil / 30 Dec) – The influential Sultan of Sulu, Sharif Ibrahim Ajibul Muhammad Pulalun, distributed rice and grocery packs to more than 300 mostly poor families in Zamboanga City. Pulalun visited the village of Lumbangan just recently and handed rice and groceries to some 100 families.
Most of those who received the packs were garbage diggers and scavengers.
“We are grateful to Sultan Pulalun, who, despite being a Muslim, came here in this dirty place to distribute gifts to Christians. May God bless him more so he can help more poor people like us,” an old woman, whom everybody called Lola, said.
It was the first time that the Sultan visited the garbage dump and spoke to the poor. He promised them more aid. “These people are poor. look at them, children and women and old men are digging for scraps when they should be together and resting in their house because of the holiday season.”
“We will find some ways to help them, especially these poor children. The Sultanate of Sulu Foundation will find a way to bring more aid to this place and other poor Muslim areas in Sulu,” Sultan Pulalun said.
One woman, Jacqueline, said her eleven-year old son is suffering from renal disease and appealed to the Sultan for help. “I hope he can help us. We need medicines for my boy,” she said, sobbing in between sentences.
From Lumbangan, the Sultan proceeded to Camino Nuevo where he also distributed rice and groceries to about 90 head of families, who were victims of recent fires in Zamboanga.
The Sultan together with village leader Antonio Deles and council member Inday Bunal knocked on doors and handed rice and food bags to poor Christian and Muslim families. “We are lucky that Sultan Pulalun came over and distributed rice and groceries to these poor people,” Deles said.
Sultan Pulalun also distributed rice and canned goods to more than 100 poor families in Canelar and met with Rolly Samson, the village chieftain.
“We can’t find words to express our gratitude to the good Sultan Pulalun. We pray that Allah give him more blessings so he can continue helping the less fortunate,” Samson said.
The Sultan said he will continue helping not only poor Muslims, but needy Christians and indigenous people also. “As long as I live, I will continue this long time tradition that my great, great grandfather, Sultan Mohammad Pulalun, had started. The same tradition continues and now, I also tell my son, Sharif Almunir, to continue this humble legacy,” he said.
The 15-year old Sharif Almunir is the heir to the Pulalun throne.
Reference: Sammy Tanjil, spokesman for Sultan Sharif Ibrahim Ajibul Muhammad Pulalun, Sultanate of Sulu
Mobile: +63921 6641644
URL: sultanateofsulu.org / sultanofsulu.com
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We started 2006 with a pay hike for government workers and we will end it with a vow to do it again next year.As soon as Congress comes back from its holiday furlough, I will be sending up a bill that will seek to grant an average 10-percent increase in the base pay of government employees effective July 2007.
This bill governs the usage of the P10.3 billion which we have set aside as the first installment of a merit-based, performance-driven compensation reform package for public sector workers.
I am asking Congress to cap its impressive run of legislation with the passage of this important bill. And come July, when the next legislature convenes, I will stand before our legislators to plead for the speedy passage of the third edition of the Salary Standardization Law, one that will not only increase the pay of state workers but boost the productivity of government as well.
The Secretary of Budget and Management will submit these bills to Congress, which will include our uniformed men and women in these pay increases.
These measures distill inputs from the field, best managerial practices, performance benchmarks and projected revenue streams of the government, all with the interest of the public in mind. When we embarked on our mission to put our fiscal house in order, we asked government workers to share the burden of the people.
Now that we have turned the corner, it is time for their share of the social payback of economic reforms.
(New Year’s Day is more than just firecrackers, horn-tooting and booze swiggling. It is also about a Jewish mother, revered over the centuries, by Muslims and Christians alike. And the column is about this Lady, who is specially honored on January 1 – Juan L Mercado).
Time magazine titled a recent cover story “Hail, Mary”. It devotes eight pages to Jesus of Nazareth’s mother. “A Mary for All” was how the Economist bannered an earlier report. Life magazine led off with: “The Mystery of Mary”. And shortly thereafter, Time did a two-page spread: “Mary, So Contrary.”
What’s going on here?
After centuries of “sullen neglect… Christians of all denominations are finding their own reasons to venerate Mary”, Time reports. Families, pastors and theologians, notably within U.S. Protestant churches, are re-discovering the Virgin.
Harvard University minister Peter Gomes pinpoints this trend in a joke about a Protestant pastor at heaven’s gates. “Ah, Professor, I know you’ve met my Father,” Jesus says in making the introductions. “But I believe you don’t know my mother.”
New appreciation of Mary stems from the very arena in which Protestants historically pride themselves most: careful and full reading of Scriptures.
Mary stood by the Cross. And she figures in “a skein of appearances longer and more strategically placed than any other character in scriptures”, Princeton University professor of New Testament literature, Beverly Gaventa, points out.
“She is present in all key situations: at Jesus birth, at his death and in the Upper Room,” Gaventa writes in “Personalities of the New Testament”. Whether in Egypt, Nazareth or Cana, “there isn’t a figure comparable to her”.
The new thinkers are exploring the implications of Mary’s excruciating presence at the crucifixion. “(She) witnesses almost single handedly Christianity through its darkest moment.”
There are critics, Time notes. Southern Baptists Convention leaders complain their colleagues are “guilty of over-reaching”.
That would baffle Muslims. Mary is Islam’s most honored woman, the Economist notes. “(She’s) the only one to have an entire chapter named after her in the Koran. Christians and Muslims alike see in Mary an affirmation that there is no limit to proximity of God that any human can attain,” the report asserts. “Surely, that is reason enough, for people of any faith, to feel reverence for history’s foremost Jewish mother.”
The Economist cites the “wisdom” texts in Jewish and Christian scriptures and the Eastern Church’s lesser-known Gospel by James. It reviews studies by Methodists Hebrew scholar Margaret Barker to Jaime Moran, religion and psychology writer.
Muslim and eastern Christians “cherish the story of Mary’s childhood in a place of supreme holiness. Both name Mary’s guardian as the priest Zechariah or Zakariya.”
“Catholics would tell you, rather firmly, that Mary is not a goddess,” the Economist notes. “She is not worshipped but rather venerated: a human being with a unique role in praying for and protecting the human race.” That hews closely to Muslim belief too.
The wisdom texts speak of a “woman clothed with the sun”. And down the centuries, “heart-stopping turns of phrase” have been applied to Mary, the Economist notes. “Our tainted nature’s solitary boast” was the way one poet put it.
“Shortly after Vatican II, a period of Marian silence descended,” recalls Catalino Arevalo, SJ, of Ateneo University. “We, in the Philippines, did not go through that phase.”
“Churches in former communist Eastern Europe have not experienced the ‘eclipse of Mary’ either,” notes this Filipino theologian. “What strikes a mainland China visitor, who gets in contact with Catholics there, is that veneration of Mary has never been stronger.”
That “Marian silence” and “de-christianization” of Europe led the German theologian Karl Rahner to write: “Many Catholics today are going through a winter of belief.”
Once known as “Christendom” Europe built the Continent’s loveliest cathedrals from Chartres to Notre Dame. Now, Europe suffers from a “vacuum of faith”, Los Angeles Times notes. The Gallup Millennium Survey reveals barely 20 percent of West Europeans attend church services once a week.
“When the new springtime of faith comes…the cult of Mary the Mother of God, will return,” Rahner added. “In fact, it will be its surest sign. Its form may perhaps be different, but if Christian tradition is valid, it will return.”
That was in 1968. Today, Rahner’s comments resound in essays by, among others, Lutheran Carl Braten: “I can’t predict exactly how the (Mary re-discovery) will happen. Some of it will be good, and some may be bad. But I think it’s going to happen”.
Some 38 years after Rahner wrote of this “second spring”, Father Arevalo notes, “this appears a remarkably prophetic text”.
This comeback of Our Lady is seen on the dateline of stories from new Marian shrines: Medjugorje in Yugoslavia; Akita in Japan; Kibeho in Rwanda and Cuenca in Ecuador. “News accounts fueled renewed interest in the Marian movement.”
Then, there was Pope John Paul II. “No pontiff in the entire history of Catholicism has had so strong and articulates a devotion to Mary.” He willed that her logo be carved on his plain cedar coffin.
If Karl Rahner was right, then perhaps the current cover stories may be more significant than they appear, Fr Arevalo says. Are they buds of the “the new springtime of faith,” which, Rahner foresaw, “is about to begin”?
By Zachary Abuza
Yesterday the Philippine military announced that the body of Abu Sayyaf chieftain, Khadaffy Janjalani, had been found buried in the jungles outside of Kabuntakas village in Patikul town, on Jolo Island, an ASG stronghold off south-western Mindanao.
The exhumed body is now undergoing DNA testing. There have been a number of occasions that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has asserted that it had killed a member of the ASG or Jemaah Islamiyah, only to later retract it. If this assertion is true, then it is a very important break in the campaign against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). Janjalani is the younger brother of the group’s founder Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, an associate of Osama bin Laden’s, who was killed in 1998.
He had worked assiduously since 2002 to bring the group back into the jihadi fold. Since early 2004, the group has shunned its high profile and lucrative kidnappings of foreigners and adopted a campaign of bombings. The most infamous case was the February 2004 bombing of the SuperFerry that killed over 100 people.
It launched the Valentine’s Day bombings across three cities in February 2005 and a host of smaller bombings in Mindanao in 2005-06. Starting in 2002, JI reached out to the ASG and began training with them in MILF camps in Mindanao. In November 2005 the MILF forced Janjalani and the two most radioactive of the JI members out of their territory and they retreated to Jolo.
A show of force of ASG in Indanan town in central Jolo in July 2006 led to the current offensive.The 31 year-old Janjalani has been on the US Government’s most wanted terrorist list since 2001 and has a $5 million bounty on his head for his role in the 2000 and 2001 kidnappings that led to the death of several American nationals.
The (AFP) launched Operation Ultimatum in early August 2006 to finish off some 120-200 militants under Janjalani’s control. In addition, they are thought to be accompanied by six members of Jemaah Islamiyah including the two Bali bombers, Dulmatin and Umar Patek. To date there are well over 7,500 AFP in Jolo.
They are assisted by a small number of US Special Forces who have been training and providing their AFP counterparts with critically needed intelligence. The AFP claims to have lost nearly 20 soldiers and marines, and another 90 wounded in the campaign.
The AFP estimated that some 50 rebels had been killed though only 13 bodies had been found. At one point the AFP claimed that 80 rebels had been killed.
The terrain is very mountainous and covered in a dense jungle canopy. Since August, there have been some successes. In Early September the AFP claimed that Janjalani and Umar Patek had been wounded in the fighting, though offered no proof.
The AFP discovered a bomb factory and seized almost 6,000 blasting caps, ten sacks of ammonium nitrate and other bomb-making materials. They also captured Dulmatin’s wife Istiada Oemar Sovie, and two of his children, which led to retaliatory bombings in October 2006.
There were other seizures of explosives, and at least four ASG members who were involved in the 2000 and 2001 hostage taking events in the Philippines and Malaysia were arrested. Amongst the most important arrests was of Uktud Bayro in late October.
Bayro, who was based on Tawi Tawi, was a key logistician in getting Indonesians and Malaysian members of JI in and out of Mindanao and Jolo.
Even with Janjalani eliminated, there are still a number of ASG leaders at large. They include:
• Jainal Antel Sali Jr. @ Abu Soliaman
• Isnilon Hapilon @ Salahuddin
• Radullan Sahiron @ Commander Putol
• Osman aka Usman @ Rizal
• Abu Jumdail @ Dr. Abu
• Albader Parad
• Wahab Opao @ Abu Fatima
• Jundam Jamalul @ Black Killer
• Borhan Mundus
• Ustadz Hatta Haipe
• Jeqi @ Zaqqi
• Suhod Tanadjalan @ Commander SuhodJainal Antel Sali (Abu Soliaman), Isnilon Hapilon, and Radullan Sahiron (Commander Putol) are thought to be the three most important leaders. One Philippine press outlet has already reported that Radullan Sahiron had been elected to take over the ASG.
Previously, there were unconfirmed reports that Isnilon Hapilon had returned to the nearby island of Basilan. Little is known about the inner dynamics of the ASG.
The ASG is not a cohesive organization with a clear command and control. The various commanders have significant autonomy, though they have displayed the capacity to coordinate activities and operations. While the death of Janjalani would be an important morale booster to the Philippine armed forces, it alone will not lead to the end of the ASG, which will continue to be a low-level threat to Philippine security.
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COTABATO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 28 Dec) – Two people were injured in an explosion inside a shopping mall Thursday in the southern Philippine province of Sultan Kudarat, authorities said.
Authorities said the afternoon blast at the Kensan Mall in Tacurong City was the second in three months to hit Sultan Kudarat, where rebel groups and extortion syndicates are actively operating.
Six people were also killed and dozens injured in a string of bomb attacks in Tacurong blamed by the police and military to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya and other criminal groups.
No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the latest attack. Police did not say what type of explosive was used in the Kensan bombing.(Mindanao Examiner)