Put Up Funding For Workers, Labor Group Asks Manila

September 30, 2007 at 8:16 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 30) – The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) on Sunday said Manila should set aside an initial P2-billion to provide a “safety net” for workers who may lose their jobs as a result of the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).

Alex Aguilar, TUCP spokesman, said the labor group expects the JPEPA, once ratified by the Senate, to eventually cause “significant job dislocation” as a consequence of reduced, if not zero tariffs that will allow cheaper imports into the country.

One of the sectors that would likely be hit hard by the JPEPA is the local automotive industry, which is ruled by Japanese companies, according to Aguilar.

“Our sense is, Japanese car makers with global manufacturing operations will ultimately find it cheaper to just bring in completely built up units from less expensive production facilities in Thailand and possibly even Vietnam,” Aguilar said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

“We anticipate some of them will eventually scale down their car production activities here,” he said.

Japanese firms Toyota Motor Phils. Corp., Honda Cars Phils. Inc., Mitsubishi Motors Phils. Corp. and Isuzu Phils. Corp. dominate the local motor vehicle industry that employs more than 74,000 workers and sells almost 100,000 units every year.

Aguilar said the P2 billion could cover emergency assistance as well as skills retooling programs to enable displaced workers to get new jobs.

He said that part of the fund could also be used to subsidize the language training of Filipino nurses, to allow them to readily qualify for employment in Japan.

Under the JPEPA, at least 400 Filipino nurses and 600 caregivers would be allowed into Japan in the first two years, subject to re-negotiation thereafter. They would have to undergo a six-month language training to be supervised by the Japanese government.

Aguilar, however, said the Philippines should not just totally rely on Japan for the language training.

Despite the prohibitive initial quota, Aguilar expressed confidence that Japan would eventually open up its lucrative health care labor market in a bigger way to Filipino nurses, physical therapists and caregivers.

“This is a function of demographics. As the Japanese population gets older, they will be forced to accommodate more foreign health care workers,” he said.

“However, once this bigger opening is created three to five years from now, Filipino nurses will have to compete with practitioners from other Asian countries, mainly South Korea and Indonesia,” Aguilar said.

“Thus, we have to stay on top of the game by encouraging our nurses who are keen on seeking employment in Japan to learn the (Japanese) language,” he added.

Sulu Gazette October

September 30, 2007 at 7:45 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment


Sulu Gazette is the official newsletter of the Sulu Provincial Government.


For inquiries about trade, investments and tourism, please e-mail us at
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Burma: One Monk For Every Soldier: The Observer

September 30, 2007 at 5:32 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

Only a mutiny in the army – and it is possible – can end the Junta’s rule in Burma.

It is an epic clash between the monks and the military in Burma. On one side: the wisdom and non-violent principles of over 2,500 years of Buddhist tradition. On the other: military might honed over 45 years of brutal authoritarian rule. The number of monks in Burma is estimated to be anywhere between 400,000 to 500,000. The number of soldiers is around 400,000. So, one monk for every soldier.

When the monks began marching in peaceful protest over a week ago, the junta remained ominously silent. Then, on Tuesday, the crackdown began. An unconfirmed number of monks were shot dead, monasteries were raided and hundreds of monks have been imprisoned.

How will the predominately Buddhist population of Burma respond to this attack on members of its revered religious order? With absolute horror, I imagine, as they have done to previous attacks (an unverified number of monks were shot dead during the nationwide uprising in 1988, and over 500 were imprisoned).

But people’s reactions will probably be expressed behind closed doors. The regime has a terrifyingly effective network of spies and informers, and people are often not willing to openly voice any criticism of the regime for fear of imprisonment and torture.

The surveillance has been so insidious that there are Burmese people I have met who do not trust anyone outside their immediate family; they won’t talk openly to cousins or close friends. When I asked a friend for advice on how to safely do research in Burma, he told me to operate under the assumption that everyone I met was an informer – including him.


After the events of 1988, the regime began to eliminate all possible means of dissent within the country. The student community, which had led and organised the demonstrations, was politically emasculated. Through surveillance and intimidation, the regime managed to create a country in which there is no social or political space for people to gather or organise in big numbers.

Many Burma watchers, myself included, thought that protests of the kind which took place in 1988 couldn’t happen again as there is seemingly no way to gain a critical mass within such an oppressive environment.

And yet, over the past fortnight, the monks have risen up in numbers it would have been impossible to imagine just a few weeks ago. They are being led by the Alliance of All Burmese Buddhist Monks, an organisation that must have been operating deeply underground as few people had ever heard of them before last week.

Many of my Burmese friends are unsurprised by surprising events such as this. One friend always travels prepared for any eventuality; he sits bolt upright throughout overnight train journeys with his belongings clasped in his lap, just in case. When I ask his opinion on future events, he squints his eyes with theatrical aplomb and says, “In Burma, anything can happen.”

Somewhere within that “anything” is the possibility of a mutiny within the army. For many soldiers, being ordered to shoot or beat up a monk goes against every grain of their spiritual up-bringing, and ensures they will carry the burden of bad karma for life-times to come. And the lower-ranking soldiers share certain similarities with the rest of the population: they, too, are poor, badly treated and afraid.

I used to see soldiers living in the crumbling outbuildings of the old British Secretariat, the regime’s main ministerial building until it moved to its new capital. In the centre of Rangoon, these poorly-paid soldiers had to use kerosene lamps and cook over camp-fires as if they were in the jungle.

One of the many rumours to emerge from Burma over the past couple days is that there may be a split in the army. Troops from central Burma are said to be marching towards Rangoon. Some say they are coming to challenge the soldiers who are attacking monks; others say they are coming to reinforce them. Whether these rumours are true or not, they are often accurate barometers of people’s hopes and fears: Will they free us, or will they crush us?

If the army succeeds in crushing this uprising – which, so far, it seems to be doing – then the regime will set to work purging the monastic order of what it likes to call “destructive elements” and even more monks will be imprisoned and tortured. The regime’s intelligence agents will shave their heads and infiltrate the monasteries, praying among the monks as one of them.

What little space for political organisation once existed within the monkhood will be obliterated. Yet another attempt by the people to speak out about their suffering will have been silenced.

So how will the Burmese people respond to soldiers aiming their guns at unarmed monks? How can they respond? If they are able to push aside a lifetime of oppression and fear, they can make martyrs of themselves and walk out into the street towards the guns. And the monks could do the same – if they are still able to mass themselves – there is, after all, at least one monk for every soldier willing to shoot him. (Emma Larkin/The Observer)

(Emma Larkin is the author of Secret Histories: Finding George Orwell in a Burmese Teashop, published by John Murray. She spent the better part of two years living in Burma to research the book and is currently based in Bangkok, Thailand)

Madness in Myanmar: Edmonton Sun

September 30, 2007 at 5:22 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

Increasingly serious situation could turn into another Iraq or Yugoslavia.

Growing unrest and mass street demonstrations across Myanmar could herald an extremely dangerous period for the nation formerly known as Burma.

Military-ruled Myanmar is extremely difficult to enter and bans foreign journalists. This writer has managed to get into Myanmar three times. On the last, I was told the secret police were actually conducting bed checks in people’s homes in the capital to ensure no trouble-makers from the rebellious northern states were in town.

On a second visit, I eluded the secret police and got to see the nation’s Nobel prize-winning democratic leader, Aung San Suu Kyi in her home in Yangon, formerly Rangoon, where she has been under house arrest for 17 years.

The crisis in Myanmar seems a simple morality drama. The saintly Suu Kyi is held like a bird in a cage by a junta of brutal, wicked generals, who until recently called themselves the State Law and Order Council, or SLORC. In 1988, the junta’s soldiers crushed student demonstrations, killing 3,000. After Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory in 1990 elections, the generals annulled the vote and declared martial law.

This week President George W. Bush and other western nations called for even tighter sanctions against Myanmar’s junta and urged its replacement with democratic government.

Myanmar, in-deed, is a nasty police state. Its generals have plundered resources and kept this magnificent nation in direst poverty. Myanmar is often called a “jewel” and “unspoiled Asia of 1940s.” True enough. But that’s because the junta and its predecessor, mad dictator, Gen. Ne Win, turned Burma into a weird, hermit kingdom.

But extreme caution is advised in dealing with Myanmar. If things go wrong there, it could turn into an Asian version of Iraq, Yugoslavia or Afghanistan.

50 YEARS

Myanmar has been at war for 50 years with 17 ethnic rebel groups seeking secession from the former 14-state Union of Burma created by Imperial Britain, godfather of many of the world’s worst current problems.

Burmans, of Tibetan origin, form 68% of the population of 57 million. But there are other important, well-defined, independence-minded ethnic groups: Shan, the largely Christian Karen, Kachin, Chin, Mon, Wa, Rakhine, Anglo-Burmese, and Chinese.

The largest, Shan, with its Shan State Army, are ethnically close to neighbouring Thailand, and in cahoots with the Thai military. Each major ethnic group has its own army and finances itself through smuggling timber, jewels, arms, and drugs.

The military juntas in Rangoon, and their 500,000-member armed forces, known as Tatmadaw, battled these secessionists for decades until the current junta managed to establish uneasy ceasefires with the major rebel groups.

If the junta were to be replaced by a democratic civilian government led by the gentle Suu Kyi, and military repression ended, it is highly likely Myanmar’s ethnic rebellions would quickly re-ignite. The only force holding Myanmar together is the military and secret police.

Shan, Karen, Kachin, and Mon still demand their own independent nations. Myanmar’s powerful neighbours — India, China and Thailand — have their eye on this potentially resource-rich nation.

China exercises strong influence over Myanmar and is building a naval base near Rangoon to give direct access for the first time to the Andaman Sea and Indian Ocean.

India sees rival China threatening its rebellion-plagued eastern hill states along the Burmese border, and is increasingly alarmed by Chinese naval ambitions in the Indian Ocean.

NEIGHBOURING INTERESTS

A new democratic government in Yangon-Rangoon that is not tough enough to deal with secessionist regions around its troubled periphery could see Burma fall into internal turmoil and also invite intervention by covetous neighbours.

At worst, India and China could even clash head-on over control of strategic Burma, a threat identified in my book on Asian geopolitics and Indian-Chinese rivalry, War at the Top of the World.

So the West should tread with great caution in Myanmar. The West and Asia must exercise great care they do not exchange military dictatorship for ethnic strife and regional conflict. (Eric Margolis/Edmunton Sun)

Militant Groups Slam Arroyo For Burma Statement

September 30, 2007 at 5:09 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo waves to well-wisher during her arrival from New York, United States of America (Sept. 30) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City. With the president in photo are Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Armed Forces Chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. (Luisito Iglesias/OPS-NIB)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner/ Sept. 30) – Two Filipino political groups on Sunday have criticized President Gloria Arroyo for calling on Myanmar to free pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners while political killings still continue in the Philippines.

“The economic and political crisis in Myanmar, which triggered series of protests tackling variety of issues from oil price increases and human rights violations, is similar to what the Filipinos are experiencing under the Arroyo administration,” said Jeppie Ramada, a spokesman for the group Bagong Alayansang Makabayan (BAYAN) in southern Philippines.

Ramada said Arroyo’s statements in the 62nd United nations General Assembly urging Myanmar “to go back to the path of democracy,” are mere rhetoric that contradict the human rights problems in the Philippines.

“With Arroyo’s speech in the United Nations General Assembly centered on Myanmar’s atrocities, it only manifests that she’s trying to evade and divert the issue of political killings in the Philippines.”

“Instead of answering allegations of political persecution in her own country, she managed to wipe the dirt into her fellow dictators in Myanmar. She has lost the moral ascendancy to talk about human rights violations since 2001, when hundreds of activists summarily executed,” Ramada said.

The militant women’s group, GABRIELA, also branded Arroyo’s statements as hypocritical and ironic.

“Mrs. Arroyo’s statements are attempts to cover up her regime’s murderous record on extra judicial killings and disappearances, amid much international criticism over the human rights crisis in the country.”

“This duplicitous show of support for Aung San Suu Kyi and the pro-democracy movement in Burma is mortifying. Mrs. Arroyo even had the gall to summon women power for the Burmese leader when in her own country, her repressive policies are the very hindrance to women power,” Rep. Liza Maza said.

Maza said that human rights documentation in the country since Arroyo assumed office in 2001 indicate that 96 women have fallen victims to extrajudicial killings and 31 have disappeared.

Under Arroyo, the Philippines have had 22 women political prisoners, many of them in conditions no different from Suu Kyi, she said.

“No different from the military junta in Burma, Mrs. Arroyo has led the violent dispersal of protests with her calibrated pre-emptive response. She has led attempts to silence critics with her Proclamation 1017 and deny Filipinos the truth behind the rampage of corruption in her administration with EO 464. Certainly, her two-faced statements cannot hide her bloody record from the international community,” Maza said. (Mindanao Examiner)

Rebels Blamed AFP Generals For Hostilities In South RP

September 30, 2007 at 4:30 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

BASILAN ISLAND, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 30, 2007) – Muslim rebels have blamed Filipino military generals as behind fresh hostilities in the southern Philippines.

Fighting had killed 2 soldiers and wounded more than a dozen others, including a civilian in the villages of Baguindanan and Silangkum in the town of Tipo-Tipo in Basilan island last week.

“They have not coordinated with us and went inside a territory and attacked our members without provocation,” said Hamza Sapanton, a senior MILF leader in Basilan island.

Brig. Gen. Juancho Sabban, commander of marine forces on the island, said troops were pursuing Abu Sayyaf militants in Tipo-Tipo.

Sapanton said government soldiers were attacking them in the guise of pursuing the Abu Sayyaf, a small but the most violent rebel group tied to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya and blamed for the spate of killings and kidnappings in the southern Philippines.

“The military generals are themselves the problem. They are always lying to the media about everything,” he said. The MILF said it has protested the attack on Basilan.

Manila is currently negotiating peace with the MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group fighting for a separate homeland in Mindanao. But despite a truce signed in 2001, sporadic clashes still continue in many parts of the region.

In July, MILF forces killed 14 Marines in a firefight after soldiers entered a rebel stronghold in the town of Al-Barka near Tipo-Tipo without proper coordination. Dozens of soldiers were also killed and wounded the next month in fierce clashes between security and rebel forces in the area.

Marine Maj. Gen. Nelson Allaga, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, said the MILF is coddling the Abu Sayyaf, an accusation strongly denied by the rebel group.

“The MILF is not coddling the Abu Sayyaf. We are not coddling terrorists and the MILF has repeatedly and publicly denounced terrorism. We have on many times condemned violence and terrorism,” Eid Kabalu, a rebel spokesman, told the Mindanao Examiner.

Peace talks have been stalled since last year after both sides failed to agree on the issue of the Muslim ancestral domain, which refers to the rebel demand for territory that will constitute a Muslim homeland. It is the single most important issue in the peace negotiations before the rebel group can reach a political settlement. (Mindanao Examiner)

Dipolog City Joins “Clean Up The World”

September 30, 2007 at 3:32 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

DIPOLOG CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 30) – More than 600 Filipino volunteers from across Dipolog City in Zamboanga del Norte province took action to protect and improve the environment by participating in the simultaneous global environmental campaign, Clean Up the World.

The local environmental campaign, held recently, was spearheaded by Clean Up Dipolog, a network of local organizations which have gathered together to inspire the local community to clean up, fix up and conserve the environment, said Ernie Rojo, the group’s chairman.
Speaking on behalf of the local organizing group, Rojo expressed his appreciation for the extraordinary efforts of local volunteers. “The community understands the urgent need to protect our local and global environment. The achievements of volunteers have shown that the people of Dipolog City do care about the state of the environment.”

“Together we are addressing the problem of solid waste disposal. Volunteers contributed to our aim of inspiring our local communities to give their own share of maintaining the cleanliness of our place,” he said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner on Sunday.

Opening the 3rd annual clean up event in the city was Dipolog Mayor Evelyn T. Uy who has committed her support to the noble initiative taken by young people by accepting the title of Honorary Clean Up Chairperson conferred to her by the local organization.

The event was part of one of the world’s most successful community-led global environment campaigns, Clean Up the World. The campaign involves an estimated 35 million volunteers in over 120 countries each year.

From Australia, Ian Kiernan, founder and chairman of Clean Up the World said, “Clean Up the World Weekend allows volunteers to witness first hand the impact of rubbish in the environment. From Australia to Dipolog City, together we are creating a healthier world for our children. I congratulate and thank the volunteers of Dipolog City for their outstanding efforts.”

For three years now, Clean Up the World activities in Dipolog City are organized through a network of organizations which include the Dipolog Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the local chapters of REACT, Boy Scouts of the Philippines, Junior Chamber International and Junior Jaycees, Rotaract and Red Cross Youth.

Volunteers who participated in this year’s campaign came from the St. Vincent’s College, Jose Rizal Memorial State College, DMC College Foundation, and Andres Bonifacio College. Local organizations APO Fraternity and Sorority, SVC-SSG, JPIA and LASS were likewise present to volunteer.

Future events planned by Clean Up Dipolog include a film showing to raise public awareness about Climate Change, the focus of this year’s global environmental campaign.

Clean Up the World originated in Sydney, Australia in 1993 and is held in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The campaign brings together community groups, schools, governments, businesses and individuals to undertake activities to improve water quality, clean up local streets, parks, waterways and forests and educate children about the environment.

Clean Up the World originated in Sydney, Australia in 1993 and is held in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The campaign brings together community groups, schools, governments, businesses and individuals to undertake activities to improve water quality, clean up local streets, parks, waterways and forests and educate children about the environment.

The Mindanao Examiner Front & Back Pages Oct. 1-7, 2007

September 30, 2007 at 12:13 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment


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OPINION

September 30, 2007 at 11:03 am | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

RATED PG by Ike Señeres


GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATIONS.

How could government agencies communicate securely, economically and efficiently with each other? This appears to be the three main government considerations in communicating with each other, to make it secure, economical and efficient.

As it is now, very few agencies seem to be concerned about their data security, as evidenced by the fact that only a few agencies have their own proprietary encryption. Truth to tell, encryption is the way to secure both data and communications, regardless of how and where messages are sent. Logically speaking therefore, government agencies should invest more in encryption rather than in the bandwidth where messages are transmitted.

Long before Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) became popular in the public mind, the Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology was already available, with no government agency taking advantage of it. To this day, VPN is still available, and still no government agency is using it.

Simply put, VPN enables users to have their own secure network within any other network, commercial or otherwise. To be more specific, users could have their own VPNs within the networks of Smart, Globe, Sun Cellular, BayanTel and PLDT, and it would work securely, as if they have their own.

On the side of economy, users could run VoIP within a VPN, thus eliminating the need to spend for commercial calls within the Plain Old Telephone System (POTS). This is another issue, as the carriers may not like the idea of reducing their POTS revenues. Practically speaking however, the costs of National Direct Dialing (NDD) long distance costs within the POTS has already gone down to ten pesos for unlimited calls, thus making it very economical already.

Considering all the telecom options that are already available, the government should instead come up with a policy that would guide employees which options should be used to save money the best way.

Sweldo Ng Guro Sa Sulu, Problemang Muli

September 29, 2007 at 7:18 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment


Si Sulu Gob. Sakur Tan habang pinakikinggan ang mga hinaing ng mga guro sa Sulu. Dumulog sa gobernador ang halos 100 mga guro upang ipabatid ang kanilang mga hinaing ukol sa ibat-ibang problema. (Photo contributed by Ahmad Fabi)


SULU – Nagbabantang mag-aklas ang mga guro mula sa mga government schools upang i-protesta ang umano’y pagkakaantala at kawalan ng mga sahod nito sa mga nakalipas na buwan mula sa Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Inireklamo rin ng mga guro ang diumano’y kawalan ng aksyon ni Sulu School District head na si Delfin Unga ukol kanilang hinaing.

Kamakailan lamang ay nakipagpulong ang halos 100 guro kay Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan upang idulog ang kanilang mga problema. Dito ay inisa-isa ng mga guro ang kanilang hinaing – mula sa naantalang sahod ng mga regular teachers hanggang sa kawalan ng sweldo ng mga temporary teachers sa buong lalawigan.

Maging ang mga contributions ng mga ito sa Government Service Insurance System o GSIS ay hindi rin umano matagpuan o kaya ay hindi nai-remit sa pamahalaan. Dumaraan kasi ang lahat ng mga ito sa ARMM kung kaya’t hirap ang mga guro na ito’y reklamo.

Tinatayang mahigit sa 5,000 ang apektado nitong problema. Nangako naman si Tan na idudulog ang problema sa Department of Budget and Management at sa ARMM at Pangulong Gloria Arroyo ang mabigat na pasanin ng mga guro sa Sulu.

Ngunit maging si ARMM Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan ay hindi rin mahagilap sa opisina nito sa Cotabato City dahil ni anino ay hindi umano makita sa kanyang tanggapan. Palagi umano itong nasa kanyang bahay sa Shariff Kabunsuan at dismayado na rin ang mga empleyado ng ARMM.

Maging sa mga lalawigan na sakop ng ARMM ay hindi riin mabisita ni Ampatuan. Tagilid umano ang katayuan nito kung muling tatakbo sa susunod na taon sa halalan sa ARMM.

Pinaghahandaan na umano ng mga guro ang kanilang demonstrasyon na isasagawa sa tuwing matatapos ang klase o kaya ay sa tuwing Sabado at Linggo. Suportado naman ito ng mga mga Parents-Teachers Association at mgaing ng mga estudyante. (Mindanao Examiner)

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