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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)
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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.
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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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A man carries a pale of dirty sea water from the Cawa-Cawa beach at the Roseller Lim Boulevard in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines. The beach is a favorite destination of picnickers, but the seawater also poses hazards to health because of the presence of bacteria and germs. The beach, a favorite race ground for Muslim vintas (second photo) in Zamboanga, is heavily polluted, but no signs are posted along the stretch of the boulevard to warn picnickers and swimmers of its health hazards. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)
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PAGADIAN CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 17, 2008) – Four communist insurgents surrendered to the military in the southern Philippines after a series of negotiations, officials said Thursday.
Officials said the insurgents, who are members of the New People’s Army (NPA), yielded four automatic rifles and a grenade launcher Tuesday in the village of Mitugas in Misamis Occidental’s Tudela town.
The four, including a rebel leader Unrico Simbulan, surrendered to the 1st Military Intelligence Battalion of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division under Maj. Gen. Nehemias Pajarito.
Officials said the surrender was part of a government program called Balik-Baril which means “Bring a Rifle Improve your Livelihood.”
Those who surrender also undergo livelihood training of their choice. The amnesty program, which started in the early 1990s, aims to convince the rebels to abandon their armed struggle and return to the fold of the law.
The government pays as much as P25, 000 for weapons surrendered by rebels, aside from at least P18,000 in initial aid, for them to start a new life.
Lt. Col. Emmanuel Sison, commander of the 1st Military Intelligence Battalion, said harsh life in the mountains and ongoing government operations against the NPA forced the insurgents surrender.
“The NPA members decided to lay down their arms because of the hardships they are experiencing in the mountains. They have been on the run with the relentless combat operations against them for many years and the promise of better life has not been realized ever since.”
“Their mass bases are no longer supportive to their cause because of the massive information campaign of the government against them. They are further demoralized since they had learned that their leaders are living luxuriously in the cities while they live like wild animals in the jungles surviving on what ever they could forage and gather,” Sison said.
The NPA, military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF), is fighting for nearly four decades now to topple the government and install a Maoist state in the country.
The United States and the European Union blacklisted the CPP and NPA, including its political wing, the NDF, on Manila’s prodding and froze their assets abroad.
Just this week, military officials announced the capture of six rebel camps in the southern province of Compostela Valley where troops had recovered explosives and munitions. The bases were so far the largest that troops have captured this year. (Mindanao Examiner)
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DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 16, 2008) – Six jungle bases of communist rebels have been captured by government troops in a campaign that began last week in the southern Philippines, officials said.
Officials said soldiers captured the rebel bases one after the other in the mountains of Compostela Valley province and recovered explosives and munitions left behind by the New People’s Army (NPA), which is fighting the past four decade for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country.
“The explosives and other paraphernalia were believed to be used for the major investment sites in the areas of Compostela Valley to continually create an atmosphere of terror for those who refute the NPa’s extortion activities,” said Maj. Gen. Jogy Leo Fojas, commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division.
Last month, NPA rebels raided the Apex Mining Company as a punishment for the firm’s failure to pay so-called “revolutionary” taxes and for environment destruction.
The NPA, armed wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), also executed a militia leader, Nelson Sam-o, in a raid March 28 in Compostela Valley. Sam-o was also the village chieftain of San Jose, a hamlet in Monkayo town.
Rebel forces also raided several government detachments manned by militias in the province the past months and warned of more attacks on government and military targets.
Fojas said the attacks were intended to divert military operations. “It is very evident that the series of hostile actions against our CAFGU patrol bases the past days, such as attacks, sniping, harassment, among others, are intended to divert the operation of our troops away from the main encampments of the NPA.
He said the presence of the camps and rebels in the province have forced many civilians to flee their homes for fear they would be harmed or killed by the NPA if they fail to pay illegal taxation.
“The presence of NPA camps in Compostela Valley area is the main reason of the usual evacuation of the civilians and not by the presence of military. The CPP, the NPA and their fronts are perverting the issues instead to mask their actual existence.”
“The CPP’s united fronts or these so-called human rights advocates only proved their support and alliance with the NPA as they always demand for the pull out of operating troops in the area to allow the NPA extortionist and bandits freely roam around the area,” Fojas said.
He said troops will continue their offensives against the NPA “without let-up.”
Last month, the CPP ordered NPA to intensify attacks as part of its new offensive, whose main purpose it said, is to seize weapons and increase the number of rebel forces in the country.
The CPP broke off peace talks with Manila in 2004 after the United States listed the communist groups as foreign terrorist organizations and froze their assets abroad on government’s prodding. (Mindanao Examiner)
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Ito ang reclaimed area sa Zamboanga City sa Mindanao na planong gawing baywalk ni Mayor Celso Lobregat ng tulad sa Maynila na kung saan ay maaring mamasyal at mamasdan ang takip-silim. Tinawag itong “Paseo del Mar” ngunit sa kabila ng malaking pondo Zamboanga City ay halos hindi naman matapos-tapos ang proyekto at kakapiranggot ang siyang nasimulan, ngunit todo pagmamalaki naman ang mga lokal ng opisyal sa naturang baywalk. Makikita rin ang harapan ng Paseo del Mar sa hiwalay na larawan sa ibaba. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)
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The Sulu Gazette is the official newsletter of the Sulu Provincial Government.For inquiries about trade, investments and tourism, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Sulu Gazette is published monthly and advertised on the Mindanao Examiner newspaper and its website http://www.mindanaoexaminer.com/ and distributed in some areas in the Muslim autonomous region, Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao City, Cebu City and Manila.
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MARAWI CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 15, 2008) – Sultans, swords, streamers. Where East meets West, visiting Marawi City in central Mindanao is like having a blast in the past. Women walk the streets in their colorful malongs. Kids singing hiphop converge in karaoke bars.
The lone Islamic City in the Philippines, Marawi, marks its 28 years as a chartered city celebrating the modern and the past. Showing it has much to offer to ward off perception of lawlessness here, the local government held colorful rites to commemorate its founding.
Gongs resounded, kulintangs played as residents wore blazing traditional yellows, reds and violets to join the city government’s parade around the city.
In a city of more than 130,000 residents, Marawi is one of the component units of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Nestled in a plateau 833 meters above sea level, the place is little known to tourists but is a haven for cultural advocates and Muslim religious travelers. The climate here is envigorating and fine grazing land stretches into the distance.
Home of the Maranaos, or lake dwellers, Marawi hosts the majestic Lake Lanao, the country’s largest freshwater lake. The lake is surrounded with myths and legends with a commanding view from the Mindanao State University.
The Darangan, one of the longest Filipino epics, is inspired by the lake. An image of a mountain shaped like a sleeping woman, called the Sleeping Beauty, catches visitors in awe.
The city is surrounded by beautiful rolling hills and mountain. Signal Hill, Arumpac Hill, and Mt. Mupo are considered beautiful and mysterious. Angolo Hill served as a natural watch over tower to the water of Lake Lanao. Mt. Mupo is known for its untouched trees, beautiful and perfectly cone.
Maranaos are said to be the most devout among the Moro tribes, with every barangay having two or more mosques. Marawi City also hosts the most number of mosques and Islamic schools or madaris, with the oldest Islamic university in the country here.
Dansalan, Marawi’s old name, was explored by the Spaniards as early as 1639. It is said that at the time, Marawi was already the citadel of Malayan-Arabic Culture in Mindanao.
Meranaw folklore holds that Islam came to the area via the northern coast and brought by a certain Sharif Alawi. In the 17th century, the Meranaws were allied with the powerful Maguindanao Sultan Kudarat.
Feeling the pulse of strong refusal among its inhabitants to adopt Christianity, the Spaniards abandoned the project of colonizing the area.
On May 24, 1904, Dansalan was proclaimed a regular municipality by the American Colonial Government. The Philippines was still under the Commonwealth Regime of the Americans when Dansalan was chartered into a city in 1904.
The Americans built the first public hospital, the Amai Pakpak and several schools. But many Maranaos then did not want to go to school fearing they would be Christianized.
The Maranaos are serious about their royalty. They have managed to maintain their traditional system of government, a system composed of the Sultan, the Bae A Labi (or Queen), the Datus, the Bae or princess.
Up to the early 1980s, the traditional government held more power than the local government units, but these days the scope of their duties is social concerns rather than administration.
The last remaining Maranao royal house – the Torogan – is a fine example of the lifestyle of early Maranao royalty. And in every home, one finds intricately carved brassware and Arabic-inspired sequined decorations.
The Maranao’s flair for the creative is exhibited by their numerous ceremonial artifacts and everyday tools trimmed with the sensuous “okir” (carving) and colorful “nagas” (serpent figures). (Samira Gutoc)