GENERAL SANTOS CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 31 May) – Police doused off public fears of terror attacks in General Santos City in the southern Philippines after cell phone text messages warned of an impending bombings by the Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiya.
It was unknown who spread the text messages, but police assured the public that there was no such threat. Police headquarters here have been flooded by calls about the threats.
The text message warned that a blue motorcycle would be used by terrorists to launch attack in General Santos. The bike, it said, would come from Maguindanao province.
Police said it would be impossible for the motorcycle to pass through layers of security and road blocks in General Santos City.
Officials appealed to the public to stay calm and vigilant. General Santos has been bombed many times in the past that killed and wounded scores of civilians. (Romy Bwaga)
COMELEC officers headed by lawyer Jocelyn De Mesa (2nd from left) reads the COC results during the Provincial Canvassing in ARMM Sanggunian Panlalawigan office, at the back are the representatives of the candidates with their Legal Council and watchers. The Provincial Canvassing held inside the Mindanao State University Maguindanao in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Shariff Kabunsuan Province.
The military tighten their security during the Provincial Canvassing because before the canvassing there is a grenade launcher explosion and strafing incident happened near the area. Another Gubernatorial candidate Tocao Mastura’s and supporters denounce the canvassing because MSU Maguindanao is Datu Bimbo Sinsuat his political opponent territory.
A family walks in the isle were one of the tanks park near the Sanggunian Panlalawigan Office were the Provincial canvassing is on going. The military tighten their security during the Provincial Canvassing because before the canvassing there is a grenade launcher explosion and strafing incident happened near the area at 2am in the early morning. (Mindanao Examiner Photos/Mark Navales)
COTABATO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 31 May) – Philippine authorities tightened security in the southern province of Shariff Kabunsuan due to rising tension between supporters of opposing politicians.
Canvassing of votes in the May 14 national and local polls in the province has been disrupted many times by violence.
An explosion on Wednesday in the province sent policemen and soldiers scampering to secure vital government installations.
Army Col. Mario Mendoza, commander of the 603rd Infantry Brigade, said he deployed troops to help local policemen secure the province, one of five under the Muslim autonomous region, from further violence and to allow the canvassing of the Commission on Elections.
Politicians accused each other of fraud and cheating to win the elections, especially in the gubernatorial race.
Regional police commander, Chief Supt. Joel Goltiao, said they have put up road blocks and checkpoints to prevent the entry of illegal weapons that can be used to stir more violence in the province.
“I am really dismayed about the election here in Shariff Kabunsuan because of very obvious and rampant vote-buying during the election.”
“I personally saw ballot boxes brought to the Maguindanao provincial capitol before they bring them to the Mindanao State University where the canvassing is done” one village elder, Datu Kali, told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.
Thousands of people held a rally on Tuesday to protest allegations by the opposition of massive cheating and fraud in the province.
Provincial elections chief, lawyer Jocelyn de Mesa, said they would continue the canvassing despite the tension in Shariff Aguak. (Becky de Asis, Special to the Mindanao Examiner)
The United States Navy’s USS Harpers Ferry, a 16,500-ton amphibious warfare ship, and two 4,000-ton frigates, the USS Ford and USS Jarrett, and three smaller Filipino ships are participating in the ten-day war games called CARAT 2007 or Cooperation Afloat Readiness And Training. Some 2,000 troops are involved in the training that begins Thursday, 31 May 2007 off the Sulu Archipelago where local troops are battling members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group and Jemaah Islamiya in the Sulu Archipelago. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)
NORTH COTABATO (Mindanao Examiner / 31 May) – Kidnappers have freed on Thursday four people they earlier seized in the southern Philippines, officials said.
Gunmen released the four to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in the village of Balongis in North Cotabato’s Pikit town, said Col. Pedro Soria, commander of the Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade in the province.
The release of the hostages previously reported as Caucasians came hours after the rebel group, backed by security forces, mounted a massive rescue operation.
But it turned out that only one hostage is foreigner, Thomas Wallart, a German national. Other reports identified the German as Wallraf, from Cologne. The others are Filipinos – May Sharon, the German’s wife; and Diego Daniel, the van driver; and Consuelo San Juan, a friend of the German couple.
“The victims were released to the MILF and they will be turned over to us,” Soria told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.
The four were heading to North Cotabato from Davao City onboard a van when gunmen flagged down their vehicle.
Major General Raymundo Ferrer, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the four hostages were not harmed by the gunmen. “They are all alright,” he said.
Ferrer said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country’s largest Muslim rebel group negotiating peace with Manila, offered to help track down the kidnappers.
The MILF has in the past helped the government rescue kidnapped foreigners and Filipinos in Mindanao.
A rebel spokesman, Eid Kabalu, said the four would be handed over to the Philippine authorities and the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team. “We are glad it’s over,” he said in a separate interview.
One of the hostage, May Sharon Wallart, said they were not harmed by the kidnappers, but shaken by the ordeal. “We are really thankful that they did not harm any of us. We are so tired and probably fly back to Manila to get some rest,” she told reporters in Pikit town.
She said the gunmen, clad in military uniform, flagged down their vehicle at a checkpoint and seized them. “We did not think it was a kidnap because they were all wearing uniform like those of the soldiers. They took our belongings and tied our hands and took us away,” she said.
The woman said she and her husband were in Pikit on a business trip. “We are into metal trading,” she said.
Other reports said the German national is a treasure hunter.
The abductions coincided with the start of the ten-day joint amphibious war games between the Philippines and the United States.
Marine Major General Mohammad Dolorfino, chairman of the government Ad hoc Joint Action Group, said the abductors were bandits operating in North Cotabato.
“The MILF is able to react immediately and rebel forces sealed off the area where the abductors are holding the four victims and recovered them safely,” he said.
It was unknown whether the MILF arrested any of the gunmen. (With reports from Juley Reyes, Mark Navales and Juan Magtanggol)
NORTH COTABATO (Mindanao Examiner / 31 May) – Unidentified gunmen seized four Caucasians Thursday in the restive region of the southern Philippines, officials said.
Officials said troops and policemen have mounted a search for the foreigners – two males and two females – who were abducted near Pikit town in the troubled North Cotabato province.
The four were heading to North Cotabato from Davao City onboard a van owned by Filipino businesswoman, Roselyn Timbal. It was unknown if she was with the foreigners or not and whether the driver was also abducted.
“We are tracking down the foreigners and their abductors. We still do not know who are behind the abductions and their motives,” Major General Raymundo Ferrer, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.
Ferrer said the victims were herded to motorcycles that followed the van near the town. “Some people witnessed what transpired,” he said without further elaborating.
Other reports said the hostages were spotted in the hinterland villages of Balongis, Tinutulan and Balatikan, all in Pikit town.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country’s largest Muslim rebel group negotiating peace with Manila, also offered to help track down the kidnappers, the general said.
“The MILF has offered to help and we are closely coordinating with the CCCH and the ADJAG,” Ferrer said. Ferrer was referring to the MILF and the government’s Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities and the Ad hoc Joint Action Groups.
The MILF has in the past helped the government rescue kidnapped foreigners and Filipinos in Mindanao.
“We are closely monitoring the situation and our forces are awaiting orders from the MILF about this problem and how we should help the authorities recover the foreigners safely,” Eid Kabalu, a rebel spokesman, said in a separate interview.
Kabalu, quoting MILF intelligence reports, said the four foreigners were flagged down in Pikit town by the gunmen.
The abductions coincided with the start of the ten-day joint amphibious war games between the Philippines and the United States.
And terror warnings by Australia and the United States about an impending attacks and kidnappings by the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya and other rebel groups operating in the southern Philippines. (With reports from Mark Navales and Juan Magtanggol)
MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 31 May) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cabled a message to his Filipino counterpart Gloria Arroyo to felicitate her, the government and the people of the Philippines on the country’s National Day.
“President Ahmadinejad expressed the hope that through mutual cooperation of officials, both countries will witness further expansion and bolstering of relations,” the Iranian news agency IRNA reported on Wednesday.
The Philippines on Monday celebrated its National Flag Day with parades. (Mindanao Examiner)
DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 30 May) – A farmer was killed after four gunmen barged in his house in Davao City in the southern Philippines, police said.
Police said the attack occurred at around 5 a.m. Tuesday in the village of Pangyan in Calinan district in the city’s outskirts.
The man, Roselio Naypa, was shot in the head, police said.
“The victim was sleeping inside his house when the suspects knocked on the door of his house. When the victim opened the door, the suspects then shot him repeatedly with a .45-caliber pistol,” a police investigator said.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspicion fell on the so-called Davao Death Squad, a group of anti-crime vigilantes largely blamed on the spate of extra-judicial killings in the city.
Relatives and families of the gang’s victims have blamed the police and their private goons as behind the vigilante group. Carlito Perez, village chieftain, said Naypa had criminal records. (Romy Bwaga)
MANILA – Canadian mining firm TVI announced on Wednesday that, while it applauds the mission and objectives set out in the recently published Rights & Democracy Report, entitled “Human Rights Impact Assessments for Foreign Investment Projects”, the company is very critical of the flawed execution of the Philippines Case Study contained in the report.
TVI Pacific voluntarily participated in the Philippines Case Study, as the company is proud of its achievements in advancing human rights in the communities in which it is active in the Philippines.
The company believes that further progress in relation to human rights and the development of indigenous peoples is attainable with the benefit of an open dialogue involving interested parties and constructive input from objective third parties.
TVI Pacific is supportive of the Rights & Democracy goal to develop and test a methodology for human rights impact assessments for foreign investment projects and proposes to adopt a modified Human Rights Impact Assessment Methodology to augment the existing Social Impact Assessment approach for project scoping and development.
However, the Philippines Case Study included in the Report is, in the company’s view, seriously flawed and factually incorrect in a number of important respects.
The case study was prepared not directly by Rights & Democracy, but rather by a “research team”, which consisted of well-known opponents of the mining industry in general and TVI Pacific’s Canatuan project in Siocon town in Zamboanga del Norte province in particular.
Predictably, the case study evidences a biased view of TVI Pacific’s operations in the Philippines and completely ignores the positive effects of its numerous initiatives to improve the well-being and standard of living of the indigenous population in the area surrounding its Canatuan mine and its efforts to minimize the environmental impact of mining operations at the area.
“We expect it is more than simple coincidence that the conclusions and recommendations set out in the Philippines Case Study coincide with positions advocated by members of the “research team” over the past decade”, noted Cliff James, President and Chief Executive Officer of TVI Pacific.
“Those organizations have consistently taken positions adverse to TVI Pacific over an extended period of time and the Philippines Case Study included in the Report provided them with another forum to propagate their agenda.
A central feature of that agenda is the prevention of new foreign financed mining projects in the Philippines, such as TVI’s Canatuan project, and the repeal of the Philippines Mining Act, which certain of the members of the “research team” unsuccessfully challenged before the Philippines courts.
Not surprisingly, the “research team” largely ignored the very positive benefits that our presence in the Philippines has produced in the areas of human rights, health, education, security, employment, standard of living, culture, housing and freedom of association, all of which would be adversely affected if we were to suspend our operations at Canatuan as they wish.
In the report, Rights & Democracy indicated that it is not in a position to verify the facts stated in the case studies and disclaimed responsibility for the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of the information set out in those case studies.
Having regard to the ideological and economic agendas of the groups comprising the Philippines “research team”, a biased approach to the Philippines Case Study was foreseeable and we are disappointed that Rights & Democracy did not take steps to ensure a balanced, objective approach.”
A more objective review of the human rights impact of the project would have included an assessment of the following initiatives introduced by TVI in the following areas:
Right to Health: Including the provision of a hospital; Operation Smile (that repaired a widespread harelip affliction); prevention of maternal and infant mortality; sanitation programs; and many more
Right to Education: Nine company-paid teachers teaching in six schools; 19 college scholars; 12 students receiving educational assistance; have provided schools and classrooms, and school supplies, computers and other instructional materials and equipment, continuing Indigenous People capacity building
Right to Life and Security: The security force has served as a deterrent to attacks from armed groups operating in the area making residents more mobile and safe even at night
Right to Work: Reference the large number of Subanons in active employment; the employment multiplier in the area; the on-the-job and pre-employment training
Right to an Adequate Standard of Living – In addition to wages and employment: the livelihood programs, the entrepreneurial developments, the provision of water, electricity, sanitation, transportation, and more
Right to Culture: Reference the program of Subanon cultural promotion, art workshops, youth camp focusing on cultural promotion, community museum
Right to Self-determination: The representatives of the majority of the indigenous community, supported by the majority, entered into a Memorandum of Agreement that provides a Royalty of 1% of gross revenues and many other benefits and rights
Right to Housing: The company is constructing the new Tanuman village and other housing projects
Respect for the Right of Freedom of Association: Recognition of both new and traditional institutions and the dignity of the indigenous leaders: the Council of Elders, the Siocon Subanon Association Inc., the Siocon Subanon Women’s Association Inc., the Community Youth Achievers
It is also important, from a human rights perspective, that the presence of TVI has intensified and is continuing to increase the presence of government and government services in a location where the State was previously absent.
Among the mechanisms to achieve this goal has been a partnership of TVI and the local government to deliver a number of joint projects for the benefit of the community, including a spillway to facilitate transportation to the Municipality, and the promotion of sports and community projects.
”That said,” James said, “our activities are a work-in-progress and we have made significant advances since the time of the study. Our interaction with the Canadian team from Rights and Democracy has strengthened our implementation of rights sensitive programming.“
“In addition, we share the sensitivity of all right-thinking people to the issue of conflict and armed security in Mindanao; we are working to implement the principles of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights; and we are working in a number of ways to contribute to demilitarization of the region – from the provision of economic development and jobs, to rethinking security management.”
Among other things, TVIRD recently appointed a Vice President of Social Commitment, Feliece I. Yeban, who was previously a professor of Human Rights Education and was once deputy chair of Amnesty International Philippines.
Yeban has complete responsibility for all of TVIRD’s social development and community relations initiatives in the Philippines.
The company’s social commitments program is being fashioned within a human rights paradigm in keeping with the Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with regard to Human Rights (the “UN Norms for Business”).
TVI Pacific noted that its disappointment with the Report also extends to a failure on the part of Rights & Democracy to uphold its commitment to TVI to provide a draft copy of the Report to the Company for comment, and to arrange a meeting with the Philippines “research team” for discussion, prior to finalization of the Philippines Case Study.
Allowing interested parties to comment on a draft report is also identified as an essential component of the methodology described by Rights & Democracy in the Report.
Step 7 of that methodology, as set out in the Report, reads, in part, as follows: “The draft report will be circulated for comment among all parties.
The nature of unresolved disputes and should be clearly articulated and included in the final report, but the research team maintains responsibility for the final content.”
Despite repeated requests, TVI Pacific was not provided with a draft copy of the report for comment, but rather received a copy of the final report on May 28.
TVI Pacific Inc. is a publicly traded Canadian mining company focused on exploring for and producing precious and base metals within district scale systems in Asia.
In the Philippines, TVI’s most advanced project, the Canatuan Mine (the first foreign-invested, new, mining project in the Philippines since the passage of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995) began mining and milling operations in mid-2004, producing gold and silver dore through its affiliate TVI Resource Development (Phils.) Ltd. (“TVIRD”).
In 2006, TVIRD received a completed NI 43-101 feasibility study on the Canatuan Sulphide project prepared by Norwest Corporation.
The report has been filed with certain securities regulatory authorities in Canada and is available at the SEDAR website at www.sedar.com. The Norwest study addresses the copper-zinc bearing massive sulphide zone, or lower portion of the Canatuan Deposit. Construction of the Sulphide Project at Canatuan is now underway.
In addition, TVIRD holds a 2.5% NSR on the Philippine-based Rapu Rapu project operated by Lafayette Mining Ltd. Exploration in the Philippines is being conducted at Canatuan, in an effort to expand TVIRD’s mineral resource base and to find new deposits, at Balabag and at other areas which management of TVI view as compelling exploration properties.
TVI also has a Drilling Segment consisting of Exploration Drilling Corporation (“EDCO”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of TVI Pacific Inc. based in the Philippines, and Hunan Pacific Drilling (“HPD”), a segment of HPGEI based in China, which generates revenue from contract drilling.
DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 30 May) – A Filipino court has convicted a father to serve jail time for life after he was found guilty of raping his daughter in the southern Philippines.
Judge Pelagio Paguican, of the Regional Trial Court Branch 12, handed down the decision and ordered the man, Juanito Jayin, a construction worker, to compensate her 16-year old daughter with some P125,000 in damages.
The girl was she was sexually abused by her father in 2003 and hid the crime for fear that she would be killed.
She said her father poked a knife at her throat and threatened to kill her if she would not undress and have sex with him. She was raped inside their own house.
She eventually told her mother about the rape and went to the police to tell her harrowing ordeal from a man of her own blood and flesh.
The father has repeatedly denied the charges, saying, it was all made up by his wife after years of quarrel over family matters.
The judge said the victim’s testimony was straightforward and more credible than her father. “The prosecution was able to convincingly prove the guilt of the accused in the case,” he said. (Romy Bwaga)
NORTH COTABATO – Peace talks between Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have been sidelined by the recent national and local elections. A story published on the newkerala.com reports about struggle of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels in Mindanao.
Since the age of 15 Muslim rebel Datumanong Lumanggal has fought countless battles against government troops in the southern Philippines to defend his peoples’ rights and identity.
Through the years, Lumanggal said he saw numerous friends and relatives killed in clashes with soldiers on the hills of Carmen town in North Cotabato province, 960 km south of Manila.
Now, the 54-year-old father of three grown-up children is waging a different kind of battle aimed at uplifting the lives of men who fought with him as commander of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which used to be the largest Muslim separatist rebel group in the southern Philippines.
Lumanggal and his wife are leading a group of close to 300 MNLF fighters turn the battlefields of Carmen into a bountiful field of mango, banana and corn plantations in the village of Kitulaan.
“We lost money in our first mango harvest but our bananas and corn are doing well,” Lumanggal said.
“But through the help of GEM (Growth with Equity in Mindanao) technicians, we hope to improve our mango harvest and make a profit during the next fruiting season,” he added.
Lumanggal and his men are among 28,000 of an estimated 70,000 MNLF combatants who have received financial and technical support from the US-funded GEM programme aimed at helping them reintegrate into the mainstream of society.
The GEM programme was started after the MNLF signed a peace agreement with the Philippine government in September 1996, raising hopes of development in the southern region of Mindanao, where decades of strife has hampered economic and social growth.
Aside from livelihood projects, the GEM programme also built basic infrastructure as farm-to-market roads and bridges in communities, affected by the conflict in Mindanao.
While Lumanggal said he was thankful for the assistance from GEM, he was worried of the larger number of MNLF fighters who have yet to reap the benefits of the 1996 peace pact.
“The help is not enough,” he said. “A lot of MNLF fighters are still waiting for help. Some of them are getting desperate. I hope their plight could be addressed soon or else trouble might start again.”
In the mountains in nearby Shariff Kabunsuan province, more than 200 MNLF fighters gathered in a show of force to a group of journalists.
Commander Magid Bantu said his group of more than 1,000 fighters continues regular military training, but was not engaged in recruitment activities since it is not allowed under the peace agreement.
Bantu pointed to thatched houses in various degrees of decay, the unpaved dusty feeder road and the dilapidated school building, as proof of the continued poverty among the country’s Muslim minority.
“Nothing has changed,” he said. “We are still living in poverty and government services are few and far between. We are tired of fighting but how else can we be heard. Our options are very limited.”
Bantu, 56, expressed serious concern that the continued neglect would force MNLF fighters to go back to the hills and renew their armed struggle.
The Philippine government has admitted that lack of funds has hampered the implementation of the agreement with the MNLF, but stressed that it was doing everything to help spur development in Mindanao.
Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has in fact placed the implementation of the 1996 peace agreement with the MNLF on the top of her administration’s agenda.
“Maybe the government thinks that we are already past our prime as fighters,” he said. “But it has to remember that a new generation of disillusioned young Muslims are growing and they would not hesitate to continue our struggle, even if it means going back to the hills.”