Saturday, December 27, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Residents of Barangay Talaguian, located at the border of Lanao del Sur's adjoining Poona-Bayabao and Masiu towns, in fact, got from World Bank not just a water system project, but a solar drier for the agricultural produce as well.
Hadja Leamen Laut, Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer of the so-called Lanao Sur A, which groups all of the towns in the first district of the province, said there has been dramatic improvements in the lives of people in the once impoverished barangay as a result of the World Bank projects.
Both the World Bank and the Japan Bank on International Cooperation (JBIC) channels all of their assistance for poor areas in Southern Philippines through the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Social Fund Project (ASFP).
Health authorities in Lanao del Sur said there have been a sharp decline in cases of water-borne diseases, such as dysentery and gastro-enteritis, after the ASFP and local villagers have constructed, as a community venture, a water system Barangay Talaguian.
"People there now have access to clean, safe drinking water," Laut said.
The office of Laut, the local government unit which has jurisdiction over Barangay Talaguian, and various community organizations joined ranks and built the water system and the solar drier in their barangay.
About 80 percent of residents in the barangay rely on farming as a source of income and the solar drier, thus, improved their productivity.
People in the barangay had used portions of a concrete national highway traversing their villages as drier for the rice and corn grains, causing inconvenience to motorists.
"Now we have our solar drier we can use for drying our harvests. What is nice about the project is that it is community-constructed, community owned," Muntia Kasim, 34, said.
Monday, December 15, 2008
It was only when residents in Barangay Micolabo in Picong, Lanao del Sur decided to unite and cohesively address underdevelopment, as a consequence of clan wars involving local families that peace and development started to spread in their villages.
It was Barangay Micolabo's being so poor and for having been previously dubbed "wild, wild west" of Picong town that enticed the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to intervene, through the conduit for its projects in the South, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Social Fund Project (ASFP).
Both JBIC and World Bank channel through the ASFP their assistance to impoverished communities in the South.
Bai Annie Ampuan, who monitors all Japanese-assisted projects of ASFP in Lanao del Sur, said it was for the mandatory involvement of local villagers in the construction of a barangay health station, a communal coconut dyer, and a multi-purpose center that virtually forced residents in Micolabo to forget about their bloody clan wars, come together and manage the three projects by themselves.
The ASFP is jointly managed by ARMM Gov. Datu Zaldy Ampatuan, lawyer Mustapha Sambolawan and the ASFP's finance director, Alejando Coscos.
The ARMM police have pegged to 2,300 the number of loose firearms in Micolabo just a year before the JBIC came in to intervene.
"Life was so miserable in Barangay Micolabo then. We lived in fear, in dire poverty and there was immense feeling of neglect by government," Maranaw farmer Gandasuri Mamacotao, 50, said in the vernacular.
Local officials said the construction by feuding Micolabo residents of a communal coconut dryer have ushered in dramatic improvements in the area's economy.
The ARMM's trade and industry, and agriculture departments have both recorded a sharp upswing in the production of copra from Barangay Micolabo in the past eight months.
"The copra coming from that area are now well-dried and, thus, have high commercial value," said the ARMM's agriculture secretary, Kesie Usman.
Corrine Tabua, who is the provincial social welfare officer of Lanao del Sur's Area B, which covers more than a dozen towns in the second district of the province, said credit also goes to the women of Barangay Micolabo, who provided extensive support to the construction of the three community-planned projects.
"You can even see the women in the area now attending peace dialogues at the newly-built multi-purpose center at the heart of Barangay Micolabo," Tabua said.
Tabua said people in Micolabo now no longer carry guns when they roam around, only farming tools. "Peace and development have set that barangay in sooner than we expected," he said.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
National Defense Chief Gilbert Teodoro accompanied by Navy Commodore Alexander Pama of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao pins military merit medal to marine soldiers during his visit Thursday at the 1st Marine Brigade headquarters in Tabiawan, Isabela City in Basilan.
Secretary of National Defense Gilbert Teodoro met with top Philippine Marine officials in Basilan Thursday as military operations against the kidnap-for-ransom groups reportedly linked with the Abu Sayyaf and Moro rebels in the island province continues.
The defense chief held a closed-door talks with the Basilan-based military commanders led by Colonel Rustico Guerrero, commander of the 1st Marine Brigade, at their headquarters in Tabiawan, Isabela City.
Secretary Teodoro was accompanied by Navy Commodore Alexander Pama of the Naval Forces South Western Mindanao and other military ranking officials from the Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom).
He told marines that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo gave explicit instructions to him through an Administrative Order "to get to the root of these kidnapping activities and to flush and root them out.
"We can't allow the reign of terror through kidnapping or what not to disrupt lives not merely here in Basilan, but in Zamboanga or wherever that be," he said.
The defense chief pinned military merit medals to 15 marines soldiers who clashed with suspected Abu Sayyaf and rogue Moro Islamic Liberation Front groups in Al Barka town.
He also joined a military's buddle fight before returning to Zamboanga City to visit the wounded soldiers confined at the Camp Navarro General Hospital in Upper Calarian.
Col. Guerrero presented to him some recovered long firearms, including an M-16 rifle, Garand, as well as ammunitions, subversive documents and identification cards believed to be from the kidnappers.
The defense chief's visit to Basilan came after a series of encounters in Al Barka on Sunday that left at least five marine soldiers dead, 25 others wounded while the rebels suffered three dead, including a commander, and six others wounded.
"Unang una nais kong ipaabot ang sinsero at napakalalim na pasasalamat ng ating mahal na Pangulo para sa mga sakripisyo ninyo," Teodoro said in a brief speech before a contingent of heavily armed marines.
"Nandito tayo hindi lamang para lumaban sa mga kriminal kung hindi magbigay ng leksyon sa buong bansa na hindi natin pababayaan na ang mga kriminal magtago sa likod ng kahit sino man."
"Gusto natin ipakita sa buong Pilipinas na hindi natin pababayaan na magkalat ang mga kriminal dito. Dapat natin patunayan na mayrong Republika ng Pilipinas na magtatanggol sa lahat ng ating mga kababayan sa ilalim ng batas."
"Kaya huwag natin pababayaan ang mga kriminal nag maghari dito. We will continue to fight criminality. We have to put down the carrying of arms, the resort to armed violence to settle disputes, and the resort to arms to earn a living."
"We will finish off the threat. All those who are involved or give safe harbor to kidnappers for ransom should be included in the operations. I think that's clear. Of course (punitive action) is beyond debate it's a necessity."
"There's only one language that these kidnappers for ransom understand and that is for the law to take catch up with them. We have to have a strong and credible deterrent action to prevent their activities from forming," he concluded.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
One of the two kidnappers, arrested in Mariki village by the military late Friday night, has admitted to have membership to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Ajabirrin Hassan who is confined at the Camp Navarro General Hospital for gunshot wounds told reporters Tuesday that he's a member of MILF recruited in Malaysia.
Hassan said he was enamored by the words of Musawari Abubakar who convinced him to join the group.
"Ako talaga ang membership ko sa MILF. Nakapunta si Musawari Abubakar sa Malaysia dahil 13 years ako doon. Ang alis ko dito 1996. Umuwi ako dito 2008 July," he said.
He further disclosed that the MILF is involved in kidnappings, although he denied being part of the actual kidnapping.
Hassan said he would be paid P50,000 for every delivery of kidnap victims through a pumpboat from Zamboanga City to Basilan.
Lt. Gen. Nelson Allaga, Armed Forces' Western Mindanao Command chief, together with local reporters visited Hassan who is confined at the military hospital in Upper Calarian.
Allaga allowed the media to interview Hassan, who suffered gunshot wounds in his right leg. He also gave some grocery items to the suspect.
Hassan along with Jay Hussin Alpad were arrested by elements of Task Force Zamboanga (TFZ) in an operation in Mariki.
The military said the suspects were planning to kidnap a businessman in the city.
Hassan denied they were targetting businessmen, saying that he does not know their target as he's only waiting in the pumpboat.
But 1st Lietenant Esteffani Cacho, spokesperson for WesMinCom headquarters, said the arrested two suspects were actually here to conduct another kidnapping.
"We believe a businessman here in Zamboanga City. Although Ajabarrin alleges that he does not know the identity of this person," Cacho told reporters.
Hassan claimed he has houses in Kasanyangan Village in Sta. Catalina and Lamitan City. He left to Malaysia in 1996 and stayed there for 13 years.
He returned to the city in July 2008. He also said he's the first cousin of Abubakar, an MILF, who recruited him in Malaysia.
The suspect said he's willing to help the government in pinning down his cohorts in kidnapping as he's already regretting for his actions.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
The Filipino-Turkish Tolerance School slaughtered at least 700 heads of cattle and distributed its meat to thousands of people mostly needy people in the different villages in the city as part of the Muslim feast of Eid al-adha holiday.
Friday, December 05, 2008
Filipinos who strongly opposed the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front lower an anti-homeland deal streamer, which reads "Yes to peace, NO to BJE" and "Let us be united in the fight to retain integrity and sovereignty of Zamboanga City," from the balcony of City Hall. Photo below shows Mayor Celso Lobregat (center), North Cotabato Vice Governor Emmanuel Piñol (2nd from left), Senator Mar Roxas (in blue shirt) pose for posterity with the folded anti-streamer that will be kept at the museum.
Political leaders who strongly opposed the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain between the Philippines government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have put down a statement made by a rogue commander of the Moro rebel group responsible for a series of attacks in Lanao province.
At the same time, the anti-Bangsamoro homeland deal leaders downgraded the mass evacuation of thousands of people in the different parts of Mindanao as a result of the fighting between MILF rebels and government troops.
Abdullah Macapaar alias Commander Bravo of the MILF's l02nd base command has recently appeared on national television in full battle gear attire, flocked by his troops challenging government: "Ubusan ng lahi (blood feud)."
"It's easy to appear brave or even to sound brave but the question is can you really face off to the government forces and obviously they can't that's the reason why they're hiding," Piñol told reporters in a press conference at City Hall Wednesday.
Up to 500,000 people are displaced following weeks of fighting between government troops and MILF rebels in Central Mindanao. They are reportedly enduring poor health services and unsanitary conditions after fleeing the fighting.
But Piñol does not mind this. He said peace will only reign in this world if people stand up and say no. "If we say let's not put up a fight because people will go to the evacuation centers and people will die then we will be living in a world of cowards."
Piñol dared Commander Bravo's group: "If they're really brave as they claim they are, they would tell government 'okay I'm in this camp and get me. But when you issue brave statements and then hide under the skirt of your mother that's a different story."
For his part, Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat said a holistic approach and enforcement of the law not only focusing on social aspect are needed to attain peace in Mindanao.
"We're all for peace. You can't legislate peace. You can't force peace, but as long as there are kidnappers, there are terrorists there can be no peace," he said. "You have to make sure that the law is enforced. No one should be above the law."
Senator Mar Roxas depended the government and blamed MILF rebels for the evacuation of thousands of people in Mindanao, saying that it was not the government who started the problem.
"The fact that there are refugees, let us not use this so-called false argumentation that the reason there are refugees is the government's fault. That's false logic!" he said.
"These rebels, criminals are responsible for these evacuees and for the disruption of lives, deaths and casualties and these are the people responsible for the situation we have in today (in Mindanao)," he added.
MILF rebels, headed by Umbra Kato and Commandero Bravo, led their forces in a deadly rampage across several mostly Christian towns and villages in Lanao and other areas in Mindanao in August.
They claimed the attacks were in retaliation for a Supreme Court order freezing an MILF-government deal that would have given them control over an expanded autonomous region in the southern Philippines.
Meanwhile, Vice Governor Piñol suggested that the only way to bring peace to Mindanao is for the government to take the problem seriously by starting with the idea of enforcing the law.
He agreed with the statement made by Senator Roxas, which proposes the deployment of police and soldiers all over the areas in Mindanao to enforce and implement the law to its full force that nobody should be exempted.
"That's the only way we can earn the respect of the people and that's the only we can bring back peace and tranquility to Mindanao initially, but at the same time moving forward you have to address the problems that result into conflict," Piñol said.