The Mindanao Examiner

April 23, 2008 at 10:06 am | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

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Surveillance Continues Against An Activist Allegedly By Military – AHRC

April 23, 2008 at 8:04 am | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information from the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) that an activist has continuously been under surveillance allegedly by the military. After having his case reported police authorities have conducted an inquiry about his current situation but they failed to provide him any protection.

UPDATE INFORMATION: (based on information received from Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR))

As earlier reported in our previous appeal, Dante F. Senillo has since been receiving serious threats from the military in Ormoc City, Leyte since April 2004. He, however, was afraid to report to the police as he believes the military may come to know of his whereabouts instead. (See further AHRC-UAC-044-2008).

According to the information newly obtained, two police officers, one of whom identified as Sergeant Bereso, had visited his house at around 1pm on 4 April 2008. The officers told him that they have received a letter regarding his situation. They also asked him some questions about his current situation. They asked him whether he is still experiencing harassments from the 19th Infantry Battalion (IB) presently and that he had witnesses to prove the incidents regarding the threats mentioned in the copy of letter they had.

They also questioned him about his current job; when he started affiliating with the National Federation of Labour Union -Kilusang Mayo Uno (NAFLU-KMU) and whether he is still actively communicating with the said federation, amongst others. However, there has not been any actual assistance or adequate protection provided to him so far.

Meanwhile, at around 9:45am on April 9, Dante took a ride on a van going to Isabel, Leyte to attend the monthly board meeting of NAFLU-KMU. He arrived in Barangay Libertad, Isabel around 11am. As he entered the Gate 2 of Philphos Company, he noticed someone had been following him. Upon reaching the canteen inside the premises of the company, the man whom Dante suspected following him, had approached.

The man then asked Dante some dubious questions like where he is going, what his job is and what he is doing in that company. According to Dante, the man was wearing a short and fatigue shirt with the abbreviation PA printed on it, which means Philippine Army.

At exactly 12:30, the company bus service came to pick up the company employees who were waiting in the bus stop. He rode on the bus and went to the union office. However, he was not sure if the man who approached him also followed him on the bus up to his destination.


The high number of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines is a result from far higher level of threats and intimidation on the human rights defenders in the Philippines. Killings and threats to the human rights defenders in fact reflect that fear is manifested in the society and the government rules people by fear. Many times, the victims who receive serious threats from the military or police do not report their cases to any government authorities fearing that their location would be exposed. The circle of serious threats often ends only after a victim is arrested or killed. (See further: AHRC-UAU-011-2008, AHRC-UAC-010-2008)

In the Philippines, policemen are seen as adversaries by the activists for having been involved in carrying attempts on their lives and for their inaction in affording them any form of protection. Often, when an activist faces and receives threats to his or herself, going to police station and concerned authorities is not an option. They rather take upon themselves any arrangement for protection.

The AHRC has in recent times has expressed serious concerns over the continuing violence and the lack of protection to activists facing threats in the Philippines. Please refer to AHRC-STM-016-2008, AHRC-STM-014-2008, AHRC-STM-009-2008, AHRC-STM-007-2008.

Regarding hindrances and difficulties for a victim to get justice are described in the chapter on the Philippines in 2007 country report of the AHRC.

SUGGESTED ACTION:Please write letters to the government authorities urging them to investigate this continuing surveillance allegedly by military against Dante.

SPDA Transfer Opposed

April 22, 2008 at 9:33 pm | Posted in 1 | 1 Comment

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 22, 2008) – Some groups within and outside the Southern Philippines Development Authority have expressed opposition to the plan of Administrator Jerry Tomawis to transfer the main office of the agency to Cagayan de Oro City.

In a statement, the groups claimed the proposed transfer will be illegal because under the Presidential Decree 1703, which amended Presidential Decree 690, its principal office should be in Davao City.

The groups said that based on these presidential decrees, which were issued when the late President Ferdinand Marcos was still exercising both legislative and executive powers, could only be repealed through a congressional action.

Also, they added, the transfer could only be undertaken upon the resolution of its board of director. Since there was no resolution, the proposed transfer, if pursued, will be illegal, they said.

They also claimed that the transfer will be cumbersome considering that Cagayan de Oro, a city in Northern Mindanao, is far from the constituents of the agency, the Muslim areas in Central and Western Mindanao and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

On April 15, Tomawis announced that the main office of the agency will be transferred to Cagayan de Oro City as the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) will take over its properties at its main office in Catalunan Pequeño.

The statement said that Tomawis only told the employees about the transfer a day after he made the announcement during the press conference announcing the takeover the DAR of its main office.

It added that the transfer was not even discussed with the members of the board of directors.

“This clearly shows the utter ignorance of Administrator Tomawis on the basic procedures and rules governing the authority. The motive behind this transfer is to dislocate personnel of the authority who have settled in Davao and force them to resign so he can appoint his all relatives, all Maranao employees who will all be subservient to his malevolent schemes,” it added.

Dissolved during the earlier part of the Arroyo administration, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo revived the agency in October 2006 with the mandate of addressing the gaps in the implementation of the peace agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front. (Candido Aparece, Jr.)

Photo: US Soldiers In Jolo Island

April 22, 2008 at 7:11 pm | Posted in 1 | 1 Comment

A US soldier mans his machine gun mounted on a hummer as he guards American and Filipino troops who joined a coastal clean up campaign in Sulu province Sunday, April 22, 2008. Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan led over a hundred Muslim villagers in the clean up of a beach front in Patikul town in celebration of the World Earth Day. And a boy curiously looks at a US soldier talking to a Filipino marine as they guard American and Philippine troops who joined a coastal clean up campaign. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

Muslim Rebels Want Stalled Peace Talks Resume

April 22, 2008 at 6:23 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment
MAGUINDANAO, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 22, 2008) – The Philippines largest Muslim rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, urged Manila on Monday to resume the stalled peace talks as Malaysia threatened anew to pull out all its ceasefire observers deployed in Mindanao is there is no progress in the seven-year old negotiations.

Kuala Lumpur is brokering the peace talks in an effort to bring an end to the more than three decades of bloody insurgency in the war-torn, but mineral-rich region in the southern Philippines.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Kuala Lumpur wanted progress in the peace process.
Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim also said Kuala Lumpur will not be sending any more truce observers to Mindanao after the mandate of its current team ends in September. Members of the Malaysian Defense Forces had been in Mindanao since 2004 as part of the International Monitoring Team (IMT).
The monitoring team is composed of 41 officers from the Malaysian Defense Forces, the Royal Malaysia Police, and the Prime Minister’s Department and is also supported by 10 military officers from Brunei Darussalam and 5 from Libya. Canada and Japan have also members on the team.
“The thing is we have to get cooperation from both sides. But if one party is not making the effort, we will have to end the mission. Malaysia is actually prepared to continue with whatever humanitarian effort, whether through negotiation or cooperation, but if the situation remains negative and the government there feels it needs to review it, and then we shall give them room to do so,” Yatim said.
The MILF fears that the pull out of international truce observers would have an effect on the peace process in Mindanao. Manila is currently negotiating peace with MILF, but talks were stalled since last year after both sides failed to agree on the issue of Muslim ancestral domain.
The MILF earlier warned that hostilities may erupt in Mindanao if the peace talks fail.
“There is apprehension of course and with the impending pull out of the IMT, we don’t know what will happen. We really cannot predict the future of the peace talks, but we have been so many times urging the Philippine government to resume the stalled peace talks and nothing has come up,” Eid Kabalu, a rebel spokesman, told the Mindanao Examiner on Tuesday. “Since the IMT arrived, armed conflict between government and rebel forces significantly decreased in Mindanao,” Kabalu said.
The MILF previously appealed to rebels and supporters for patience as the talks stalled over demands for a separate Muslim homeland.
Last month, US Ambassador Kristie Kenney met with the secluded MILF chieftain Murad Ebrahim and discussed the peace process in Mindanao. The US had in the past offered as much as $30 million to fund development projects in Muslim areas in the southern region should the MILF signed a peace deal with Manila.
MILF chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said the Filipino peace panel last year agreed on the scope of the Muslim ancestral domain, but later reneged on the accord that will constitute a separate homeland for over 4 million Muslims and indigenous tribes in Mindanao.
“This ugly turn of event in the peace process is taxing the patience of the MILF and the Bangsamoro people, who may be compelled to resort to other means, pacific or otherwise, of resolving the Mindanao conflict when they are pushed to the wall and become hopeless in the present peace process,” Iqbal said.
The MILF said government negotiators headed by Rodolfo Garcia completely disregarded the agreement on the ancestral domain and insisted again that the granting of homeland to Muslims in Mindanao would solely be through Constitutional process which the rebel group previously opposed. But the Philippine Constitution prohibits the dismembering of the country.
“This stance of the GRP peace panel has virtually jeopardized the integrity of the peace process and to continue with the talks would virtually turn it into a circus,” Iqbal said.
The ancestral domain which covers the whole of Muslim autonomous region and other areas in Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani provinces where there are large communities of Muslims and indigenous tribes. And even Palawan Island in central Philippines and the Sulu Archipelago.
President Gloria Arroyo opened up peace talks with the MILF in 2001 and signed a cease-fire agreement, but some rebel commanders see the negotiations as a strategy which is aimed at temporarily stopping the hostilities in Mindanao until her term ends in 2010 and pass on the secessionist problems to the next president.
Mohammad Ameen, a senior rebel leader, previously said the MILF will only sign a peace deal with Arroyo government if it establishes genuine governance for Muslims. (Mindanao Examiner)

World Earth Day: Sulu Joins Coastal Clean-Up Campaign

April 21, 2008 at 7:24 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan, 2nd from left, and US military commander Col. Bill Coultrup, left, pick up pieces of garbage in the coastal village of Mauboh in Sulu province in southern Philippines, Monday, April 21, 2008.
Elzadia Washington, of the United States Agency for International Development, accompanied by US Embassy staff, arrived in Sulu to join more than a hundred Muslim villagers and soldiers in the clean-up campaign during the World Earth Day celebration. Elzadia Washington picks up pieces of garbage in the coastal village of Mauboh. And Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan gestures as he shows to Elzadia Washington the beautiful beaches in the town of Patikul. (Sulu Media Desk Photo)



SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / April 1, 008) – Muslim villagers joined US and Filipino troops in a coastal clean-up campaign during the World Earth Day celebration Monday in the southern province of Sulu.

Elzadia Washington, of the United States Agency for International Development, who visited Sulu province, also joined the clean-up drive in the village of Mauboh in Patikul town. Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan led the locals in the campaign.

“We are happy that people are active in caring for their environment and we will sustain this effort to ensure Sulu remains a beautiful place in this part of the country,” Tan told reporters.

Filipino marines and US troops headed by Col. Bill Coultrup joined in picking up pieces of garbage left by tides on the beach. “Along this, we are all reminded of our responsibilities, which extend beyond our own backyards. This clean-up campaign demonstrates oneness among stakeholders in caring for the waters not just in Sulu, but in fact everywhere in the world,” Marine commander Brig. Gen. Juancho Sabban said.

“Every day should be coastal clean-up. And cleaning the coast through picking up garbage is the least that we can do. By giving Mother Earth a totally healthy environment, we are also acting upon our moral duty for the people we both serve and hold dear,” he said.

Washington said she is happy by the active participation of the province in the World Earth Day celebration. “Protecting the environment is important and crucial towards the progress of the nation. If environment is not protected, concerns in security may arise,” she said.

She also toured different places in Sulu and went with Tan to the Mount Datu where Washington viewed the whole of Jolo and nearby towns. Washington was all praised to the beauty of Sulu, from its pristine beaches to unspoiled jungle and friendly people. “The people are great and friendly and the place is magnificent,” she said.

Tan said the Mount Datu one of many eco-tourism sites in Sulu and a favourite among nature lovers and trekkers. While the Sulu Sea is one of the richest fishing grounds in the Philippines. “We have very beautiful places in Sulu and we are working hard to promote these places,” he said.


The Tubbataha Reef is the best known site in the Sulu Sea for its 81,000 acres of corals. It is also considered the world’s best dive spot for underwater adventure. The pearls from the Sulu Archipelago are among the finest in the world, Tan said. (With reports from Nickee Butlangan and Arthur Abasalo)

Photo: Sulu Province (Jolo Island)

April 20, 2008 at 5:53 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

Ferries are anchor at the port of Jolo in the southern Philippine province of Sulu. The United States has committed millions of dollars for the rehabilitation of the port and the airport in Sulu, says Governor Sakur Tan. A few hundred American soldiers are currently stationed in Sulu, on the request of the Philippine government, to help train local troops and carry out humanitarian and development projects in the province. And a small motorized boat just off the coastal town of Jolo. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

Muslims Hold Pro-Independence Rally In South RP

April 20, 2008 at 5:47 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

Hundreds of Muslims, chanting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great), hold a rally, Sunday, April 20, 2008, demanding independence in the southern Philippine town of Jolo, once the seat of power of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 20, 2008) – Hundreds of Muslims turned up Sunday in the southern Filipino town of Jolo and demanded independence of Sulu province, once the seat of power of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo.

With clenched fists and chanting “Allahu Akbar” (God is great), the marchers clad in their traditional garb demanded independence of Sulu, an archipelago in the remote part of the Philippines.
“We want independence. We want our ancestral land back from the infidels,” Datu Ibrahim told the Mindanao Examiner. Others assailed the military for alleged violations of human rights of Muslims in Sulu after seven people and an off-duty soldier were killed by security forces in a raid on an Abu Sayyaf hideout in Maimbung town in February.
The marchers went around the town of Jolo, many waving red flags emblazoned with Kris and other traditional weapons, urging citizens to join them. Policemen guarding the town kept a close watch, but did not stop the marchers, some of them carrying long knives tucked on their waist, a long tradition still practiced in many parts of the island.
“People here are just expressing their sentiments. It is their freedom, to express what they believe is rightfully theirs. As long as they don’t break any law, it is fine and police are watching them,” one police sergeant said.
The Sultanate of Sulu was a Muslim state that ruled over much of the islands off the Sulu Sea. It stretches from a part of the island of Mindanao in the east, to North Borneo, now known as Sabah, in the west and south, and to Palawan, in the north.
The Sultanate of Sulu was founded in 1457 and is believed to exist as a sovereign nation for at least 442 years. The Sultanate of Sulu obtained Sabah from Brunei as a gift for helping put down a rebellion on the Borneo Island.
Mindanao, Palawan, and the islands of the Sulu Sea were colonized by Spain, which ruled the country. Christian settlers later occupied Muslim ancestral lands.
The British leased Sabah and transferred control over the territory to Malaysia after the end of Second World War. Even after Borneo became part of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur still pays an annual rent of 5,000 ringgit to the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu Ismail Kiram. At least a dozen people were claiming to be the real sultan of Sulu and North Borneo.
The MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, which is negotiating peace with Manila, is also fighting for independence in Mindanao, a region rich in natural resources, but is deep in poverty and torn by strife and terrorism.
However, many politicians whose family owns vast tracks of lands and business interests in Mindanao are opposing the MILF demand for a separate state, saying, it would displaced Christians in areas covered by the Muslim ancestral domain.
Peace talks were stalled last year after government and rebel negotiators failed to agree on the scope of the ancestral domain, which is the single most important issue in the peace negotiations before the rebel group can reach a political settlement.
The ancestral domain which covers the whole of Muslim autonomous region and other areas in Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani provinces where there are large communities of Muslims and indigenous tribes. And even Palawan Island in central Philippines and the Sulu Archipelago.
President Arroyo has opened up peace talks with the MILF in 2001, but since then no substantial agreements have been signed between the two sides, expect for the cease-fire accord. The MILF earlier warned that hostilities may erupt in Mindanao if the peace talks fail. (Mindanao Examiner)

P34-M Reward Offered For 12 Wanted Terrorists

April 19, 2008 at 5:05 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment
MANILA, Philippines – Security officials have offered a total of P34 million in reward money for any information that will lead to the capture of 12 wanted leaders of the al-Qaeda-backed Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf group.
The monetary reward will be given to any person who can furnish authorities with information that will lead to the arrest or neutralization of the suspects led by JI bomb expert Omar Patek who is using the folling alias Ismael, Salim, Mike, Daud, Arasalan, Abdul Sheykh; and Ammar Usman alias Joko Pitono, Dulmatin, Mahmoud, Sali Ali and Ahmat Usman.
The Philippine News Service said the reward money was approved February 28 by the Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno, Department of National Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., Philippine National Police chief Director General Avelino Razon Jr. and Armed Forces chief of staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr.
Both Patek and Dulmatin are wanted for multiple murder and frustrated murder by local authorities. They are believed to be hiding in Mindanao. Dulmatin was earlier rumored to have been killed by troops in an encounter in Tawi-Tawi but experts are yet to confirm if the body found in Tawi-Tawi early this month was really his.
The other wanted terrorists were identified as: Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan/Abdul Musa, a JI member wanted for multiple murder, frustrated murder and attempted murder and with a P5 million reward.
Ahmad Akmad Batabol Usman alias Abdul Basit and Basit Usman, an ASG bomber wanted for multiple murder and frustrated murder and destruction of property with a P3 million reward; Jabid Abdul alias Zabiri Abdul and Beds, an ASG bomber wanted for multiple murder and frustrated murder with a P2 million reward.
Jeheri Jeron alias Black Tungkang, an Abu Sayyaf sub-group leader wanted for kidnapping and serious illegal detention with a P2 million reward.
Sakur Mustakim alias Sakur or JR Mustakim, another ASG member wanted for kidnapping and serious illegal detention and carrying a P500,000 reward and Kudri Usman Abu alias Abu Usman, an ASG member wanted for kidnapping and serious illegal detention — P300,000 reward.
Hassan Muksin alias Abu Muksin/Danny Mustakim/Abu Muksin, another Abu Sayyaf member wanted for kidnapping-for-ransom and serious illegal detention with a P300,000 reward; Edimar Hayudini alias Edzmar Hayudini, an ASG member wanted for multiple murder, multiple frustrated murder, qualified treachery and evident premeditation and use of high explosives substance with a P300,000 rewar.
Jul Wahid Abu alias Jul Wahid, an ASG member wanted for kidnapping and serious illegal detention with a P300,000 reward; Solomon Ahadjadi alias Abu Solomon, ASG member wanted for 21 counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention with a P300,000 reward.
Officials assured that the identities of the informants will be kept in utmost secrecy to protect them and their families.

Sulu, Sasama Sa World Earth Day Clean-Up

April 19, 2008 at 4:09 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

Aliw na aliw ang mga batang ito sa kanilang mga ipinapakitang gilas sa Mauboh beach sa bayan ng Patikul sa Sulu province. Pangungunahan ni Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan ang isang massive clean-up campaign sa ibat-ibang luga sa lalawigan sa Lunes, Abril 21, 2008 sa selebrasyon ng World Earth Day. (Mindanao Examiner Photo/Nickee Butlangan)




SULU (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 19, 2008) – Isang malaking coastal clean-up ang isasagawa ng lalawigan ng Sulu bilang pakiki-isa sa selebrasyon ng World Earth Day.

Pangungunahan ni Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan ang clean-up drive sa ilang mga beaches sa lalawigan, partikulat sa bayan ng Patikul, na isang potensyal na tourist destination sa katimugan.
Sinabi ni Tan na magsisimula sa Lunes ang clean-up campaign at katuwang rin ng Sulu ang Alliance for Mindanao Off-grid Renewable Energy Program (AMORE) ng US Agency for International Development (UAAID).
Kasama rin sa proyekto ni Tan ang mga sundalong Pinoy at Kano na ngayon ay abala sa ibat-ibang humanitarian mission sa Sulu. ‘Itong clean-up drive natin ay hindi lang dahil sa World Earth Day celebration, ngunit ito ang panimula ng sustaible ecology project ng Sulu upang makatulong naman tayo sa maling problema dulot ng climate change sanhi ng polusyon.”
‘Sisiguraduhin namin na bawat barangay ng lahat ng bayan sa Sulu ay may kaukulang pagaambag sa pananatili ng ating kalikasan at kapaligiran. Ang Sulu ay nanatiling malinis, lalo na ang aming karagatan,” wika pa ni Tan.
Ang tema ngayon taon ay tinawag na “Bayanihan para sa Kalikasan” at ayon kay Tetchie Cruz-Capellan, ng AMORE, ay Malaking hakbang ang isasagawang clean-up sa Sulu upang mapanatiling malinis ang lalawigan.
“This is a very huge concern for us since thousands of our beneficiaries in Sulu depend largely on the Sulu Sea for livelihood. Millions of people depend on the Sulu Sea for food. The sea provides opportunities for all people,” sabi pa ni Capellan. (Nickee Butlangan)

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