Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Renewal of Vows! Journalists Light Candles To Remember Fallen Colleagues

Candles in the dark. (Zamboanga Journal)

Today, May 31, colleagues all over the country wear black and gather to silently light candles to remember and honor our dead. But ours is not the silence of mourning or surrender, but of defiance, and the flames we light our steadfast determination to fend off the darkness descending on our land.
Since 2001, when the power of the people made Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo president, we have already seen 42 journalists murdered, a bloodletting that has far surpassed the combined toll under all her three immediate predecessors.
And lest we forget, this administration, which owes its existence to the supreme will of the people, is the first that has deigned to muzzle the independent Philippine press since the dictator.
Indeed, it is the supreme irony that the democracy we are supposed to have won back in 1986 has claimed more journalists – 79 thus far – than the 34 lost throughout the whole 14-year Marcos dictatorship.
And given this administration's generally callous disregard both to the killings – not just of our colleagues but of hundreds of dissenters as well – and to the calls for justice and respect for people's rights and liberties, we are afraid we have not seen the end of this murderous rampage.
But we will not be cowed into mute submission, neither by this government's indifference nor the dark schemes of those who wish to silence us.Today, with all our colleagues who join us nationwide, we renew our vow to be the voice of the voiceless, the succor of the dispossessed and the bane of the oppressors.
Our pens, microphones and cameras we consecrate to the cause of restoring the light of freedom and democracy to our benighted land!

In Philippines, U.S. military finds model for beating terror

U.S. Army Colonel James Linder during a meeting with Filipino government officials in the southern Philippine island of Jolo. Linder, more popular with the local press as "G.I. Joe" named after a popular cartoon hero, is perhaps one of the most friendly U.S. military commander deployed in the southern Philippines and is active in humanitarian efforts in the troubled region. (Zamboanga Journal)

HONOLULU (Audrey McAvoy) When the commander of U.S. Special Forces in the Philippines talks about battles won in the war on terror, he does not list enemies killed and targets destroyed. Instead, U.S. Army Col. James Linder recounts jobs created and schools built.

"We just changed the dynamics of a very small community from one in which only a few years ago, Abu Sayyaf was coming down from the hilltop with weapons on their back and recruiting the schoolchildren, to one in which they can't come there anymore,'' Linder said.

Since 2002, U.S. Army Rangers and Navy SEALs have been training and equipping Philippine troops to oust al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf terrorists from Mindanao, a predominantly Muslim and largely poor part of the Southeast Asian nation. The militaries have used a combination of combat offensives and development projects with a heavy emphasis on the latter to isolate the terrorists and win over local populations.

Their successes in villages like the one Linder described contrast sharply with the U.S.-led effort in Iraq or Afghanistan, where terror attacks only seem to increase. Now, senior U.S. military leaders say their work in the Philippines may offer lessons for how the U.S. operates in the Middle East.

On Basilan island, where U.S. troops first started operating four years ago, improved security has allowed the Philippine military to shrink its presence from 15 battalions to two, said Maj. Gen. David Fridovich, the commander of U.S. Special Forces in the Pacific.

Fridovich said military operations are only 15 percent of what needs to be done. The rest is humanitarian, like Army engineers helping rebuild schools and military doctors giving residents shots. U.S. aid workers have helped build bridges and roads.

``We think there is a model here that's worth showcasing. There's another way of doing business,'' Fridovich told reporters at the Pacific Area Special Operations Conference in Honolulu recently.

Of course, circumstances in the Philippines are far different from the Middle East. Disparate cultures, history and geography would prevent any Philippine solution from being applied directly to either Iraq or Afghanistan.

Also, the U.S. and Philippine militaries can't take credit for all of Abu Sayyaf's failures. The group has marginalized itself by offending local populations with the use of tactics like beheadings, rape and torture.

But Linder, speaking on the sidelines of an anti-terror conference in Hawaii, said his interactions with people on the island of Jolo showed the troops are making a difference.

He recalled a visibly emotional woman who ran up to him because she wanted to show her gratitude for the sewing machine that has allowed her to earn a living. And the village leader who vowed to quit fighting for Abu Sayyaf and instead take up arms alongside Filipino soldiers against his former allies.

Rohan Gunaratna, head of terrorism research at the Singapore-based Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies, said the U.S. has had ``tremendous success'' on Basilan.

"The Americans did not take the shortcut in Basilan. They took the long road that's working with civilians. Their priority was to build bridges with the Muslim public rather than hunt the terrorists,'' Gunaratna said.

Iraq only became so violent because U.S. commanders focused too much energy on killing enemies when they should have done more to meet the basic needs of Iraqis, he said.

"The terrorists are also competing for the hearts and the minds of the people,'' Gunaratna said. "If you are able to do a better job, the terrorists are marginalized. No one will support the terrorists.''
The U.S. military effort in the Philippines has not been easy.

U.S. troops now numbering a few hundred, down from a peak of 1,200 do not participate in combat there. The U.S. military initially wanted to fight but President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's shaky administration refused to gamble with the politically explosive prospect of foreign troops fighting domestic insurgents on Philippine soil.

Still, nearly a dozen American troops died in a helicopter crash and a bomb attack in 2002. Muslim activists and residents have protested the U.S. presence, calling it a magnet for violence and a violation of Philippine sovereignty.

A few hundred mountain-based guerrillas continue to threaten Jolo. In March, suspected Abu Sayyaf members bombed a grocery store on the southern island, killing nine people.

Washington and Manila, meanwhile, are deepening their partnership. Last week, the two nations announced a new security arrangement expanding the grounds for American forces to stage exercises in the Philippines.

When asked if the Basilan experience was applicable to Iraq and Afghanistan, Gen. Bryan D. Brown, head of U.S. Special Operations Command, said every culture and situation was different, but many lessons could be learned.

"It's about working with the people, it's about building the infrastructure, it's about demonstrating good governance,'' Brown told reporters at the Hawaii conference. "It's about good medical care, it's about eliminating human suffering.'' (We are republishing this AP story because we are a witness to the transformation of Basilan after the Balikatan -- from one strife-torn island, now to a peaceful destination in the southern Philippines -- of course, local military commanders headed by Brig. Gen. Alexander Aleo, the government officials and the Muslim people helped a lot to make this come true. Ed. Zamboanga Journal)

Vice Mayor Sells Zambo In America

Zamboanga City Vice Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco, 2nd from left, poses with Fr. Deny Toledo, SJ; Lizle Enriquez and Joe Ramos who is president of the Zamboangueno Association in New York City.

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 31 May) Vice Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco invited executives of various civic groups and organizations in the United States to visit and invest in Zamboanga City.

Climaco, who is in the US on official visit, said she met with Butch Meiley, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company Executive in New York City, to explore possibilities of improving local communications systems and setting up of call centers.

"Mr. Meily has sought to find possibilities how ties can be improved to set up communications system for a call center in the city. There is really a need to expand possibilities to utilize the talents of Zamboanga’s graduates in the Spanish speaking market as well as the English and even Arabic speaking countries,” she said.

The City Council has recently approved a resolution requesting the Commission on Higher Education to study the possibility of additional units for Spanish and English proficiency and Arabic language in the tertiary curriculum.

Call centers are flourishing in major cities like Manila, Cebu and Pampanga but most operators prefer to hire Zamboanguenos as call center agents due to their proficiency in the Spanish and English languages as most of their clients are either Spanish or speak in English.

Climaco attended last week's Women’s Global Connection forum in San Antonio, Texas and is currently meeting with representatives of different business groups and organizations in New York and other areas in the US to invite them to invest in Zamboanga City.

Arrested Terror Man In Sabah Trained Terrorists In Southern Philippines

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 31 May) Malaysian authorities said one of 12 terror suspects arrested in Sabah had trained terrorists in the southern Philippines, where Filipino security forces are battling members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group.

The suspects were believed to have links to the Indonesian terrorist group Darul Islam have been detained and authorities were investigating their links with the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group operating in the southern Philippines.

Philippine troops were pursuing the Abu Sayyaf group, blamed for two cross-border kidnappings in Sabah in 2000 and the spate of deadly bomb attacks in the southern Philippines since 1994.

Malaysian police 10 Indonesians and two Malaysians were arrested off the coasts of Sandakan and Tawau in Sabah, southwest of Tawi-Tawi island in the southern Philippines after months of surveillance.

The Kuala Lumpur-based tabloid, The Star, reported Wednesday that one of the Indonesian suspects was trained by the al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and that he also trained other terrorists in Indonesia and the southern Philippines.

It said the man was described by the Malaysian intelligence as dangerous and is a strong source of influence on other Darul Islam members.

"The regional intelligence agencies had been keeping tabs on the group, particularly its link with the Abu Sayyaf, a small violent Muslim terrorist group operating in the southern Philippines. Several of its leaders had reportedly fought in Afghanistan during the Soviet war and were students and proponents of radical Islamic teaching," it said.

Malaysian police also seized from them several weapons and documents, including bomb-making instructions downloaded from the Internet.

It said the Darul Islam was planning attacks on several neighboring countries with Malaysia as its transit point. Malaysian authorities did not say if the Philippines is among the target, but suspected terrorists in the past have used the southern region to illegally cross into the Sulu archipelago and Mindanao.

Army Brigadier General Alexander Aleo, Jolo island military commander, said operations against the Abu Sayyaf are going on and that security forces were tracking down members of the group.

"There is an ongoing operation in Jolo and nearby islands and troops are tracking down members of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group," Aleo, who is supervising the hunt, said.

General Aleo said they would also investigate whether the Abu Sayyaf has any links with the Darul Islam. "We will look into that reports about the arrested terrorists in Sabah. We will coordinate with the proper authorities about this," he said.

Malaysian authorities said the arrest of the suspects was the biggest success against terrorism since their crackdown five years ago on Kumpulan Militan Malaysia (KMM) which had links with the Jemaah Islamiah terror network.

One of the arrested Malaysian is a religious teacher who graduated from Syria, while the other was a graduate from Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang.

The Abu Sayyaf is on a U.S. list of terrorist organizations and Washington has offered as much as $10 million bounty for the capture of the group's chieftain Khadaffy Janjalani and other known leaders.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Zamboanga Journal, E-World Career Center Scholars Begin Training

Journalists, who are scholars of the online newspaper Zamboanga Journal and E-World Career Center Corporation begin a week long training on web design and development in Zamboanga City on Monday, 29 May 2006. (Zamboanga Journal)
ZAMBOANGA CITY –- Five journalists who are scholars of the Zamboanga Journal and E-World Career Center Corporation began a week long training on web design and development in Zamboanga City.
The five jornalists were Roel Pareno, Therence Koh, Cheng Ordonez, Charlie Saceda and Pami Wee.

The online newspaper has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the E-World Career Center Corporation to provide scholarship grants to local journalists and out-of-school youths and poor high school students here.

At least 5 journalists from different newspapers and radio and television stations would be given short courses training every month from basic computer operation to the more advanced Macromedia Dreamweaver and other related education.

"It is a partnership between us, Zamboanga Journal, and the E-World Career Center Corporation to help not only local media members, but also those deserving students and out-of-school youths who wanted to pursue computer education.

“We are happy that E-World is helping us fulfill this small endeavor, and Zamboanga Journal will continue its scholarship program in other field of education, and to make this available to as many journalists and students as possible,” Al Jacinto, editor-in-chief of Zamboanga Journal.

Jacinto said the scholarship grants are also open to deserving high school students, who wanted to learn, but cannot afford to pay the cost of the training. "We will help not only deserving journalists, but students as well, especially those who are really interested to learn," he said.

E-World is one of Zamboanga City's leading global providers of computer education. At least 60 journalists are expected to benefit from the scholarship grants during the first year of the trainings.

"On our part, we are glad to help and that is why we really strive more to become an industry leader, not only in Zamboanga City, but to the other parts of Mindanao,” said Juvy de Jesus, E-World Cereer Center manager.

E-World offers a variety of short courses training designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills in Information Technology. Its courses are also intended for corporate clients who have specialized training needs, De Jesus said. "We can customize any specific requirements for our clients or companies," she added.
Zamboanga Journal came about at first, just as a public service weblog after a photo session in December 24, 2005 in Lumbangan, a small village east of Zamboanga City, where the government garbage depot is located.

From a public service weblog, it soon became the online newspaper now called the Zamboanga Journal, and supporters and journalists from different parts of the country have pledged to help it run and turn the Zamboanga Journal into a tool to help the less fortunate, particularly the children and old people in Zamboanga City.

Jacinto said there are plans to come out with a monthly magazine. “Zamboanga Journal Magazine is now on the drawing board,” he said.

The monthly magazine will carry Special and Feature stories, Home, Food and Lifestyle sections, Tourism and Travel pages, People, Fashion and the Arts, among others.

Two Killed In Clash Outside Zamboanga

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 30 May) A former leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) turned government militia clashed with bandits killing two of them in the town of Dinas, east of Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines, police said Tuesday.

Police said the group of ex-rebel commander Norham Amil clashed with bandits in the village of Sambulawan . One of Amil's followers was also wounded in the fighting late Monday afternoon, said Superintendent Ramon Ochotorena, the chief of police in Zamboanga del Sur province.

"Two bandits were killed in the fighting. We have deployed police forces in the area to pursue the bandits and protect the villagers," Ochotorena told the Zamboanga Journal.

He said the militias were patrolling the village when they ran into a group of bandits led by Kamil Lao, tagged as behind the series of killings and attacks on civilians in the area.

Police said Lao's group was also implicated in the killing of the town's vice mayor Abdulbasit Maulana and five of his bodyguards. In March, troops killed one of Lao's henchman Bandino Albios in a clash in the village of Hakayan in Dinas town.
Albios and Lao were also linked to the killing in December of another Zamboanga del Sur town vice mayor Mujahid Andi and two town councilors Manuel Mira and Alejandro Estriba in October last year.

Malaysia Probes Links Of Arrested Terror Suspects To Abu Sayyaf, Al-Qaeda

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 30 May) Malaysian authorities have detained at least 12 people with suspected links to the Indonesian terrorist group Darul Islam and were investigating them if they have connections with the Jolo-based Abu Sayyaf group in the southern Philippines.

It said 10 Indonesians and two Malaysians were arrested off the coasts of Sandakan and Tawau in Sabah, southwest of Tawi-Tawi island in the southern Philippines after months of surveillance.

It was not immediately known if they had come from Indonesia or the southern Philippines, where security forces were pursuing members of the Jemaah Islamiya, tagged as behind two deadly Bali attacks in the past.

Malaysian police seized several weapons and documents, including bomb-making instructions downloaded from the Internet, the Kuala Lumpur-based tabloid The Star reported on its website Tuesday.

It said authorities were investigating whether the men have contacts or links with the al-Qaeda terror network or the Abu Sayyaf group, blamed for two cross-border kidnappings in Sabah in 2000 and the spate of deadly bomb attacks in the southern Philippines since 1994.

"Police are investigating if Darul Islam had links with the Abu Sayyaf terror group based in the southern Philippines and the al-Qaeda movement led by Osama bin Laden who orchestrated the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the United States," it said, quoting unnamed police sources.

It said the Darul Islam could be planning attacks on several neighboring countries with Malaysia as its transit point. Malaysian authorities did not say if the Philippines is among the target, but suspected terrorists in the past have used the southern region to illegally cross into the Sulu archipelago and Mindanao.

Army Brigadier General Alexander Aleo, Jolo island military commander, said operations against the Abu Sayyaf are going on and that security forces were tracking down members of the group.

"There is an ongoing operation in Jolo and nearby islands and troops are tracking down members of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group," Aleo, who is supervising the hunt, told the Zamboanga Journal by phone.

General Aleo said they would also investigate whether the Abu Sayyaf has any links with the Darul Islam. "We will look into that reports about the arrested terrorists in Sabah. We will coordinate with the proper authorities about this," he said.

Malaysian authorities did not say when the 12 were captured, but said it was the biggest success against terrorism since their crackdown five years ago on Kumpulan Militan Malaysia (KMM) which had links with the Jemaah Islamiah terror network.

One of the arrested Malaysian is a religious teacher who graduated from Syria, while the other was a graduate from Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang.

The Abu Sayyaf is on a U.S. list of terrorist organizations and Washington has offered as much as $10 million bounty for the capture of the group's chieftain Khadaffy Janjalani and other known leaders.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Media In Black In The Philippines

Let's make May 31 MIB (MEDIA IN BLACK) Day
Palawan broadcaster Fernando "Dong" Batul was gunned down early morning of May 22. He was the 5th journalist killed this year, the 42nd under the Arroyo administration and the 79th since 1986 when press freedom was supposed to have been restored. The hard-hitting journalist known as the "Bastonero ng Palawan" will soon be laid to rest.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) invites all our colleagues in media to join us in bidding Dong Batul goodbye through a candle-lighting ceremony on May 31 at the Boy Scouts Circle (Timog corner Morato streets, Quezon City) at 6 pm.

We also enjoin our colleagues to wear black t-shirts whole day of May 31 as our way of expressing our grief and outrage at the murder of another journalist.

We say: Enough is enough! Let us cease to be just observers and recorders to the death of democracy. Let us unite and fight back the threats to our lives and liberties.
Media organizations in various parts of the country will also hold simultaneous candle-lighting ceremonies.

Wild Pigeons In Zamboanga City

Wild pigeons are many in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines. Bird flu has recently killed two people in Indonesia, south of the Philippines. (Zamboanga Journal)

Zamboanga Journal Magazine Now On The Drawing Board!

Zamboanga Journal Magazine is now on the drawing board. The monthly magazine will carry Special and Feature stories, Home, Food and Lifestyle sections, Tourism and Travel pages, People, Fashion and the Arts, among others.

If advertisers can sustain the operation of the magazine, then we may go on publishing twice a month. Negotiations are going on with financial institutions for the funding of the magazine.

We welcome any suggestion for additional contents or sections of the Zamboanga Journal Magazine. We thank our valued readers, our partners and sponsors, for their continued support.

BIMP Jamboree Marker

BIMP-EAGA JAMBOREE MARKER: Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte (right), leads the ceremonial unveiling of the commemorative marker for the 2nd BIMP-EAGA (Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia- the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area) Urban Scouts Jamboree at the PTA Grounds in Davao City in the southern Philippines. Also in the photo are Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) national president and Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, BSP secretary general Jose Pangilinan, Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo) OIC chair Virgilio Leyretana and Davao City Administrator Wendell Avisado. (Photo courtesy by MEDCo)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Cop Killed In Jolo Attack Ahead Of Mercy Ship Visit

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 28 May) A Muslim policeman was shot dead Sunday by an unidentified gunman in the troubled island of Jolo in the southern Philippines, where security forces were fighting members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group, official reports said.

The latest attack came ahead of the arrival of the United States Navy hospital Mercy for a series of medical mission in Jolo. The ship is still in Zamboanga City and would be heading for Jolo next week.

The gunman fled after the attack in Jolo town and taking with him the policeman's pistol. It said the victim Najir Abbas was shot near the public square around 7 a.m.
No individual or group claimed responsibility for the killing, but spate of attacks on Jolo has alarmed both civilians and traders.

At least four soldiers and two civilians were killed the past two weeks in gangland-style executions in the capital town. In March, an Abu Sayyaf bomb ripped through the second floor of a department store in Jolo, killing 9 people.

A policeman Henry Elumbaring was also shot dead and a civilian was kidnapped and beheaded in February also in Jolo town. And many more killings on the island largely blamed on the Abu Sayyaf remain unreported for fear of reprisals by their relatives.

Washington listed the Abu Sayyaf as a foreign terrorist organization and offered as much as $5 million bounty for its top leaders, including Khadaffy Janjalani, believed to be the al-Qaeda contact in the Philippines.

Editorial:Email Fraud!

While electronic mail has become the easiest way of communications, the danger of getting a virus or worm is also a risk. Of course, spam mails are nuisance, but I think the most difficult virus of them all is human.

Some people will do everything to steal from you, and they will even take the name of God in vain and use even the Holy Bible or the Quo’ran, and sometimes verses from them to lure other people.

Some will send you e-mails, saying, you won a multi-million dollar lottery, or that your e-mail address was chosen to win tens of thousands of Euros, or millions of Francs, or gold bars and Swiss deposits from deposed presidents, or dead corporate executives.

And there is no better way to ward this off, or protect your computers from virus and other threats, but to delete the e-mails and curse the sender.

Below is an example of a fraud. Using the name of Allah, the sender even capitalized the name that is Holy to Muslims.

In The Name Of ALLAH! Most Gracious, Most Merciful, "Salamalukum"

I understand the concern my letter will be to you for the fact that it comes from someone you dont know before. My name is Halima Ahmed from south Africa. i am 26 years old studying in Sunway University College Malaysia.

My father was working with South African Embassy here in Malaysia and at the same time do supply business with a chinese man, Mr chin chong.He does supplies of BIOTHERN 12 XP 1000 I.U product to one doctor from London.

The doctor normally meet him here in malaysia, my father supply to him before the doctor take the product to London where he treat animals in veterinary homes. Its for curing cow mouth disease, support good fat growth of cow and it is also been used for all other animals.

My father have stoped working with the embassy because of his sickness(Stoke) and he has gone back to south Africa.

I have taken his supply business from Mr. Chin Chong because he always cheat me during the profit sharing, and my father told me to stop every transaction with him because this business is my family business that i need to pay my father's bill at the Hospital and to take care of my school fees and some miscellaneous expenses here in Malaysia.

The doctor has called for the product again, that is why i need your assistance to supply the Doctor.

Please i will like to talk to you on phone and meet with you to discuss one on one over this business. We normally buy from one local malaysian lady at RM5,500 per cart on and sell to the Doctor at RM9,500.

I hope to hear from you soonest.

Yours faithfully,

Halima Ahmed

You can now email me at:

Greeetings..My name is Benard Damary,a banker with United bank for Africaplc, I want to transfer $26,000,000 Million US Dollarsbelonging to (late) Mr Yen Reidfield.

You can provide abank account of your choice for this amount and alsothe percentage you wish to take for your assistance. If we agree on the terms, you shall hold the balanceof the funds on trust after deducting your percentage,until we are able to find Reidfield's relative.

Reply for more details. Here is my phone +2348052168085

Faithfully, Benard Damary

Disney-inspired theme park proposed for Zamboanga City

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 28 May) Zamboanga City deputy mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco on Sunday said she would propose the establishment of a children's park following a trip to Florida's Walt Disney World and Epcot Center and other parks in the United States.

Inspired by the parks, Climaco said it is now high time for Zamboanga City to have its own playground where children can also use to exercise."We hope to realize this for the children!," Climaco, a staunch advocate of children's welfare and protection, said.

At least two sites here -- the Pasonanca Park and the reclaimed CDCP Complex -- are being eyed for the children's playground.

Climaco said the proposed park will have monkey bars -- a child friendly slide and a house box -- where children can safely play. She said the slides in Florida parks are designed in such a way that a quarter of the facility is provided with a curvature to prevent a child from overshooting below. Cut tires are used as flooring to help prevent injuries.

"The park should be totally child-friendly," she told the Zamboanga Journal.

Climaco attended the Women Global Conference held in San Antonio, Texas and then toured the Walt Disney World for new ideas about Zamboanga's own children's park.

The Walt Disney Park is located in Lake Buena Vista, outside Orlando. It opened on October 1971, with the Magic Kindom theme park and has since added Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom theme parks.

In addition to these four main theme parks, the resort contains two water parks, six golf courses, a sports complex, an auto race track and more than thirty resort hotels, and numerous shopping, dining, and entertainment offerings. The 47-square-mile property is the largest theme park resort in the world.

While the Epcot, acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, a utopian city of the future planned by Walt Disney. Epcot is generally regarded as more "learning-oriented" than other theme parks. It has only three thrill rides --Test Track, Mission: SPACE, and Soarin' --the rest of its attractions are rides, shows and sometimes walkthrough exhibits.

MAGHUSAY TA! By Uriel Cruz Vallecera


SA walay diyotay ng pagduhaduha na leksiyon gayod ang mga opisyal sa siyudad ug lalawigan sa Cebu niadtong hinay nga linog nga miigo sa Leyte niadtong ikaduhang semana sa Mayo nga nakapalong sa tanang dagitabnong gahom sa hapit tibuok Central Visayas.

Gumikan sa mang hitabo, mitumaw ang kabalaka nga basin dili andam ang Cebu sa panginahanglang emerhensiyang may kalabotan sa pagkapalong sa dagitabnong gahom kon kini mahitabo atol unya sa pagpahigayon sa Association of Southast Asian Nation (ASEAN) Summit nga gikatakdang ipahigayon sa Disyembre, 2006 sa International Convention Center sa Mandaue City.

Mao nga mitumaw ang idea mahitungod sa pagbaton og stand-by powers. Ang maong stand-by powers gitakdang andamon aron pagseguro nga dili maulawan ang Cebu atol unya sa pagpahigayon sa ASAN Summit diin daghang mga langyaw ang moduaw sa Sugbo aron pagtambong sa maong panagtigom.

Matod pa ni Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia nga ang insidente sa blackout dili gayod matagna mao nga ang mga lugar nga pahigayonan sa conference o sa summit mismo kinahanglan nga adunay stand-by powers nga magamit sa higayon nga mahitabo ang lapad nga blackout.

Sa nasayran, ang Sugbo nagkuha og kuryente gikan sa lainlaing isla nga gi-transmit pinaagi sa submarine cable. Pero ang maong sistema bulnerable sa kakulian, partikular na sa linog nga dili matagna kon kanus-a mahitabo o moabot.

Ang provincial government sa Cebu miawhag sa mga power investors sa pag-invest og power plants sa Cbu aron pagseguro nga dili gayod hikabsan sa dagitabnong gahom ang mga Sugboann nga ilang magamit sa tanang panahon.

Nindot kining ideya mahitungod sa stand-by powers. Maayo unta kon may mga power investors nga mosanong gilayon sa awhag sa awhag sa mga opisyal sa kagamhanan sa lalawigan sa Sugbo aron maseguro nga karon pa lang gani, andam na gayod sa hingpit ang Sugbo sa pag-host sa ASEAN Summit.


Ang pagbutang og surveillance camera sa Marcelo B. Fernan Bridge nga nagdugtong sa siyudad sa Lapulapu ug Mandaue usa ka nindot nga idea arn ma-monitor ang mga sakyanan nga moagi sa maong tulay.

Makatabang usab kini aron pagpug-ok sa kakursonada sa mga terorista nga nagtinguha sa paghimog kadaot sa maong tulay ug sa ubang mga dapit sa lalawigan sa Sugbo.

Gikataho man god nga ang ikaduhang tulay nga nagdugtong sa Mactan sa mainland Cebu usa sa target sa mga terorista. Samtang dili pa segurado kon unsa ka tinuod ang maong taho apan mas maayo nga manegurado gayod aron paglikay sa dakong disgrasya.

Hinuon, ang giingong surveillance camera dili makahatag og dakong garantiya nga hingpit nga maluwas ang maong tulay gikan sa pangatake sa mga terorista. Atong hinumdoman nga kon mat-an ang atong mga awtoridad, mat-an usab ang mga terorista.

Kinsay nasayod nga may lain silang paagi nga nahunahunaan aron makalusot sila gikan sa maong mga surveillance camera ug makapasalir gihapon sa ilang tinonto?

Mao nga dili angay magsalig na lang gayod sa surveillance camera. Ang visibility sa atong kapolisan maoy labaw nga gikinahanglan aron mas maseguro nga luwas ang maong tulay sa bisan unsang pagpangatake sa mga terorista ug uban pang ekstremistang grupo.
(Uriel Vallecera is based in Cebu province)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

3 Killed, 4 Wounded In Rebel Attack In Agusan Province

AGUSAN DEL SUR (Zamboanga Journal / 27 May) Communist insurgents attacked a southern Philippine village and killed three people and wounded four others, officials said Saturday.

Officials said among those killed were two relatives of a Catholic priest and a government soldier undertaking community works in the village of San Roque in Prosperidad town in Agusan del Sur province. Three other soldiers and a civilian were wounded in the Friday attack by New People's Army fighters under rebel leader Lorna Gomez.

"The soldiers were only helping villagers as part of their community outreach program and the rebels attacked them, killing an army trooper and two innocent civilians, who were relatives of a Carmelite priest in the area," Lt. Col. Francisco Simbajon, a spokesman for the Army's 4th Infantry Division, told the Zamboanga Journal.

Army Major General Cardozo Luna also condemned the killings and ordered troops to pursue the attackers.

Simbajon identified those killed as Pfc. Allan Quimotquimot, of the 29th Infantry Battalion, and civilians Danilo Bisak and Lito Vigonte, both 34, and related to Carmelite priest Arnel Globode.

"We still don't know the motive of the attack, but this barbaric act clearly shows that the NPA is a terrorist organization. They kill innocent civilians," he said.

The military earlier said it killed 2 NPA gunmen and wounded at least 6 more in fierce clashes the same day in Carmel village in the town of Bayugan on the other side of the province. Four soldiers were also injured in the battle, triggered by an NPA ambush on the village chieftain.

The province is a known NPA stronghold and earlier this month, security forces killed four 4 insurgents in the village of Los Angeles in the outskirts of Butuan City in the neighboring Agusan del Norte.

The rebels stepped up its offensive in the countryside after peace talks with Manila collapsed in 2004 following the pullout of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front from the negotiations due to their continued inclusion in the terror lists of the United States and the European Union.

Rebel leaders demanded that President Gloria Arroyo asks the United States and the European Union to strike them off from the terror lists before they resume peace talks. Manila also suspended safety and immunity guarantee for its negotiators following the collapse of the peace talks.

Philippine military welcomes deployment of Malaysia tsunami warning buoy in Sulu Sea

(Photo courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 27 May) The Philippine military on Saturday hailed a Malaysian proposal to deploy a buoy as early warning for tsunami in the Sulu Sea, northeast of Mindanao island.

Malaysia said it would deploy a third buoy in the Sulu Sea next month. But Dr Yap Kok Seng, director general of the Malaysian Meteorological Service Department, said the exact location and date of installation have yet to be decided as the matter is still being discussed with the Filipino government.

Filipino security officials said they are willing to work closely with their Malaysian counterpart in the early detection of tsunami.

"We welcome the proposed deployment of the buoy in the Sulu Sea as this will give countries such as Malaysia and the Philippines, and Indonesia an early warning for tsunami. We will work closely with our Malaysian counterpart to ensure the safety and security of the buoy," Major General Gabriel Habacon, commander of military forces in the southern Philippines, told the Zamboanga Journal.

A tsunami warning system is a system to detect tsunami and issue warnings to prevent loss of life. It consists of two equally important components: a network of sensors to detect tsunamis and a communications infrastructure to issue timely alarms to permit evacuation of coastal areas. This gives time for a tsunami forecast to make and warnings to be issued to threatened areas.

The sensing devices on the buoys contain pressure sensors for determining a wave's size by gauging the weight of the water column passing over it. This information is relayed to the surface buoy and then to a satellite by modems. The satellite then beams the information to tsunami warning centers.

"The Malaysian government is still discussing with the Philippines government on the location of the third buoy, and the Philippines government's response so far has been very good," Yap said.

The first Malaysian buoy was installed near the island of Rondo in Sumatra, Indonesia late last year while the second was deployed in March near the Layang-Layang island in South China Sea.

The need for urgent deployment of the buoy coincided with a powerful earthquake early Saturday morning in Indonesia's Central Java province that killed scores of people. The earthquake, measured 6.2 in the Richter scale, flattened small buildings.The quake, which struck at 5.54 a.m., was triggered also by heightened activity by Mount Merapi volcano, according to Indonesia's Meteorology and Geophysics Agency.

MILF Alarmed By Spate Of Killings, Violations Of Rights In Philippines

A woman speaks on her cell phone outside the Zamboanga International Airport in the southern Philippines. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front is alarmed over the spate of summary killings and human rights violations in the region blamed by the Amnesty International to the military. (Zamboanga Journal)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 27 May) The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which is negotiating peace with Manila, expressed alarm over the spate of summary executions in the country and urged President Gloria Arroyo to do something to stop the killings.

Khaled Musa, deputy chairman of the MILF's Committee on Information, also echoed a recent report by the Amnesty International (AI) about the rampant cases of human rights abuses and summary killings of innocent civilians in the Philippines.

He said there is an increasing rise in summary executions in the Philippines. "How does one rate this increasing rise of summary executions in the country from Davao to Zamboanga, Palawan to Manila, which already reached several hundreds since 2001? If this is not chilling and then what is it?" Musa said.

He said over 600 people were victims of political killings that last five years. The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines said more than 70 journalists were also murdered since 2001, making the country the most dangerous place for journalists, second to Iraq.

But the military's Southern Command disputed Musa's statement, saying, there is now an atmosphere of peace in the region.

"There are no rampant human right violations or summary killings in Mindanao or in Sulu archipelago. There is now an atmosphere of tranquility in the region because of efforts not only of the government, but also by different nongovernmental organizations, the church and the people themselves, to work together for peace and harmony," Major General Gabriel Habacon, commander of military forces in the southern Philippines, told the Zamboanga Journal.

The military had previously blamed the communist New People's Army and the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group for the series of killings and bombings in the region.

Arroyo's spokesman Ignacio Bunye said the AI report was unfair, after the human rights watchdog claimed a climate of impunity exists in the Philippines.

Musa said the AI report was objective and fair and reflective of the total human rights condition in the country. "The Arroyo administration must do something concrete to stop these senseless killings immediately or it has no reason to stay in power any longer," he said.

In its annual human rights report, the AI said the lack of confidence in government and the criminal justice system contributed to the apparent public tolerance on killings and violation of rights in the Philippines. It also scored the rise in human rights abuses and summary executions of political activists in the country.

It said many leftist activists in Luzon were killed by unidentified assailants and most of the killings were often blamed on the military.

Read About Mindanao, Go!

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Friday, May 26, 2006

A Little Help Is What It Takes To Make A Poor Child Smile!

Mindanao Needs Brad Pitt!

MANILA (Mitch Confessor / 26 May) If the temple kingdom of Cambodia had Oscar winner Angelina Jolie promoting tourism, then the Southern Philippines could have her beau Brad Pitt pushing for peace and conflict prevention and resolution in the whole island.

Praises for Hollywood’s powerful “Brangelina” couple were just a few of the many sidelights during the two-day Roundtable Discussion on Social and Economic Reintegration held recently at the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City.

Presidential Peace Adviser Sec. Jesus Dureza told Swedish Ambassador to the Philippines Annika Markovic and other participants of the forum on the Stockholm Initiative on Disarmament, Demobilisation, and Reintegration (SIDDR) that the Khmer Republic was lucky to have Jolie promote the kingdom in the aftermath of the government-communist guerrilla peace talks.

To which Markovic jestingly replied to Dureza: “Then we can have Brad Pitt for Mindanao.”

Jolie, who is pregnant with Pitt’s child, earlier starred in the film version of the computer game “Lara Croft Tomb Raider,” the first version of which was shot in the famous Ankor Wat towers in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.

Herself an Ambassador of Goodwill of the United Nations (UN) who has performed real-life international charity works and portrayed the role of a Medicins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders/Frontiers) volunteer in the film “Beyond Borders,” Jolie had also adopted a Cambodian boy which she named Maddox.

People Magazine last April named the Jolie-Pitt clan as the “World’s Most Beautiful Family,” showing a photo of them in the middle of the desert of the central African nation of Namibia together with Maddox and an African girl, which the two Hollywood celebrities earlier adopted and named Zahara.

In 2001, Hollywood was abuzz with talks that either Pitt or his “Interview with a Vampire” co-star Tom Cruise was about to shoot a movie in Mindanao called “Fertig,” a World War II story of the daring Cabanatuan raid wherein each of them was to portray the role of American Army lieutenant colonel Henry Mucci.

Miramax Films later shot the film “The Great Raid” in the Gold Coast in Australia, featuring Filipino actor-director Cesar Montano, Welsh actor Joseph Fiennes, and American actor Benjamin Bratt portraying the same Lt. Col. Mucci role based on William Breuer’s book “The Great Raid on Cabanatuan” and Hampton Sides’ work “Ghost Soldiers.”

The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently encouraged the Philippine government to consider the process of disarming, demobilizing, and reintegrating of rebels into society like those in Africa, Aceh, Ireland, and Cambodia to help build peace in the community.

Amb. Lena Sundh of the Swedish Foreign Ministry has revealed that the SIDDR is a process which gathers representatives from donors and host nations, international organizations, academic institutions, and civilian, military, and police experts.

One of the programs of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) under Dureza involves a Disarmament-Demobilisation-Reintegration (DDR) program.

USNS Mercy Arrives In Southern Philippines

A group of young fishermen talk from a beach Friday 26 May 2006 as they await for the U.S. Navy hospital ship Mercy anchored behind a fleet of trawlers off Zamboanga City. The USNS Mercy is on a month long medical mission in the strife-torn southern Philippine region where the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group is operating. (Zamboanga Journal)
A masked fishermen sails Friday 26 May 2006 off Zamboanga City where the U.S. Navy hospital ship Mercy is anchored behind a fleet of trawlers. (Zamboanga Journal)
US soldiers escort Filipino patients Friday 26 May 2006 for medical treatment to the USNS Mercy anchored off Zamboanga City in the troubled southern Philippine region. Security is tight around the ship and Filipino and American navy seals were guarding the Mercy to prevent possible terror attacks from the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group, blamed for the spate of bombings and killings in the region. (Zamboanga Journal)

The U.S. Navy hospital ship Mercy is anchored off Zamboanga City on Friday, 26 May 2006. The USNS Mercy is on a month long medical mission in the strife-torn southern Philippine region where the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group is operating. (Zamboanga Journal)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 26 May) Security was tight Friday in Zamboanga City after the U.S. Navy hospital ship Mercy arrived for a series of medical mission in the strife-torn southern Filipino region, where members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group and communist insurgents operate.

The USNS Mercy, which departed Manila for Zamboanga Tuesday, is also heading for the troubled islands of Jolo and Tawi-Tawi in the Sulu archipelago for a similar humanitarian mission.

Both the Abu Sayyaf and the Maoist New People Army rebels have previously threatened American targets in the Philippines and had in the past attacked U.S. soldiers participating in anti-terror exercises in the country.

Heavily-armed Filipino and American troops were spotted guarding the 272.5-meter-long ship anchored off Zamboanga City. Government officials and security leaders were ferried by helicopters to tour the ship.

"We are very thankful for doctors from America for the assistance that they will provide to the Zamboangueno patients", Zamboanga City Vice Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco told the Zamboanga Journal. She said more than 1,000 patients will benefit from the free medical service.

Local journalists were also invited to tour the ship, but many were disgruntled when they were told to sign a waiver and climb up a rope ladder on the side of the ship.

"Please proceed to PIO SOUTHCOM not later than 0600H to meet with PIO SOUTHCOM & JSOTF-P PAO for signing of waiver needed for the coverage on the hospital ship."

"The group will board the ship utilizing a rope ladder. Please secure your belongings (Camera, Video, Recorder etc) to avoid incident. We suggest using a back pack or any kind of bag that will help you secure your valuables," the Southern Command said in an e-mail sent to reporters late Thursday.

But journalists who covered the arrival of the USNS Mercy in Manila last week did not climb up the rope ladder and instead past through a door on the side of the ship.

"Why do journalists have to sign a waiver and climb up a rope ladder to get to the USNS Mercy? While Manila reporters passed through a door on the side of the ship when they were invited to cover and tour the ship?

"Will the Southern Command and U.S. military also tell government and military officials to climb up the same rope ladder to get to the Mercy?," one reporter asked.

Commander Pamela Kunze, of the USNS Mercy, said journalists who are unwilling or unable to use the Jacob's ladder should refrain from taking the tour.

"I understand that Jacob's ladder is not the most convenient way to board the ship, however we wanted to give media the first possible opportunity to see USNS Mercy once she arrives Zamboanga. Rest assured, we'll do everything we can to ensure safety in this evolution.

"Because we will start transporting crew, care providers and patients almost immediately upon arrival, this was the best solution available that would allow access without negatively impacting our ability to perform the humanitarian mission we're here to accomplish," Kunze said, adding, "We certainly do not want anyone to feel as if they're being treated unfairly, but under the circumstances, this is the best option we can offer for those wanting the opportunity to cover the story immediately."

At least 25 percent of the ship's crew members are Filipino-Americans and Captain Henry Villareal, second to mission commander Captain Bradley Martin, is the highest-ranking Filipino-American aboard the ship.

Selected patients in Zamboanga City were screened for free medical operation onboard the ship, which was last in the Philippines in 1986 during a humanitarian mission also.

For its current visit, the Mercy is configured with state-of-the-art medical equipment and a robust multi specialized medical team of uniformed health care providers capable of providing a wide range of services ashore as well as on board the ship, according to the U.S. Department of State.

It said the deployment of the Mercy was unique because local civilian medical professionals and nongovernmental organizations will be working side-by-side with military personnel.

Volunteers from the U.S. Public Health Service, Aloha Medical Mission, Project Hope and the Pre-Dental Society of the University of California at San Diego are joining the Mercy, along with a contingent of medical specialists from the U.S. and Canadian militaries.

Medical personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines will board the ship for the month long Filipino portion of the ship's five-month mission.It is also scheduled to visit Indonesia, East Timor and Bangladesh.

The crew also will work with onshore assistance organizations, such as the Taiwanese Tzu Chi Foundation, ACDI/VOCA, Save the Children and the Philippine Red Cross.

The USNS Mercy, whose home port is San Diego, can support various services such as casualty reception, optometry screenings, corrective eyewear distribution, physical therapy, burn care, radiological and laboratory services.
It also offers dermatology, urology, obstetrics and gynecology, general surgery, ophthalmologic surgery, plastic surgery, basic medical evaluation and treatment, preventative medicine treatment, dental screenings and treatment, immunizations, public health training and veterinary services.

While in Zamboanga, the USNS Mercy will also deploy a small team of sailors from the Naval Construction Force (Seabees) to perform repair and minor construction projects ashore. Some of these construction projects directly can improve local medical and sanitary facilities. The U.S. Navy Show Band deployed aboard the ship will also perform for free in select locations in the southern Philippines.

"The deployment of USNS Mercy to Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific exemplifies the United States commitment to working together with our friends, partners and the regional community," said Admiral Gary Roughead, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. "By deploying the Mercy , we are training our medical crew in order to better prepare them to respond in times of disaster relief."

"This mission reflects longstanding ties between the United States and the Philippines, as well as our continued commitment to work together to address mutual problems and concerns," he said in a statement released by the U.S. Embassy.

Last year, the USNS Mercy deployed in response to the December 2004 tsunami that struck Southeast Asia. That deployment resulted in the treatment of more than 107,000 patients, including 466 surgeries, distribution of 11,555 pairs of eyeglasses and performance of more than 6,900 dental procedures in Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea.

Mindanao Power Supply Remains Critical

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Mike Banos / 25 May) The worst may be over for the Mindanao grid this summer with the onset of the rainy season, but power supply in the island remains critical, as oil fired plants come down and repairs in its hydroelectric plants continue.

Emmanuel Abellanosa, National Transmission Corporation (TransCo) manager for North Central Mindanao Area (NCMA), said they have been constrained to implement voluntary power curtailment or "power shedding" at various times this simmer due to imbalances between the available power from National Power Corporation (NPC) and the demand from residential, commercial and industrial users.

"There's not enough spinning reserve in the Mindanao grid to address contingencies," Abellanosa said.

NPC figures show the system gross reserve in Mindanao from the latter half of 2005 to year end 2006 to be insufficient to meet the 11.9-percent load following/frequency reserve and spinning reserve requirements.

Peak power demand in Mindanao this summer topped 1,100 megawatts but the NPC only managed to supply an average of 1,050 megawatts to the Mindanao Power Grid. As a result, whenever there's a glitch in the distribution system, power is cut in some areas as the grid seeks to balance the remaining available power throughout the delicately balanced system.
Abellanosa said NPC's total power generated has been curtailed due to ongoing rehabilitation works in the Agus IV Hydro-Electric Power Plant at Iligan City, the 255-megawatt Pulangi IV Hydro Electric Plant in Bukidnon and the Iligan Diesel Power Plant in Ditucalan, Iligan City, turned over a few years back by independent power producer Northern Mindanao Power Corporation.
Agus IV's generators Nos.1 and 4 with a total output of 92 MW experienced problems with its turbines while low water level in the catchment area for the Pulangi IV HEP drastically curtailed its production. The Iligan Diesel Power Plant (25 MW) is not producing as much power as it should.
As a result, power supply to the Zamboanga peninsula and nearby areas was curtailed by 50MW causing up to three hour power outages although Cagayan de Oro city managed to get by due to the Mindanao Energy Systems (Minergy) power plant which augmented available power to the local utility (Cagayan de Oro Electric Power & Light Co. or CEPALCO) with 18 MW.
Cyril C. del Callar, NPC president, earlier warned that "recurring power shortages are expected especially during peak periods, when generators and or associated transmission lines are on forced outage."

The onset of rains bodes well for the hydroelectric power complexes in Agus and Pulangi rivers but until power from these sources stabilize, Transco would be constrained to continue its power shedding contingency, Abellanosa said.
Rafael Magbanua, communications officer for Transco NCMA, said at least 85 percent of Mindanao has already been tapping independent power producers (IPPs) and NPC power barges particularly in key areas.
"But we are still talking about a very erratic and critical power supply...this power sourcing is very abnormal still," he said. That's for the short term. Over the medium and long term, even if only ongoing base load coal-fired power plant in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental comes online as scheduled by year end, it's merely going to patch things over but not fix it.
That's for the short term. Over the medium and long term, even if only ongoing base load coal-fired power plant in Villanueva town in Misamis Oriental province comes online as scheduled by year end, it's merely going to patch things over but not fix it.

Although the grid is being weaned away from its traditional dependence on hydroelectric power plants, the bulk of generated power in the island is still being sourced from the Agus Hydroelectric Power Plants in Iligan City and Lanao del Sur and the Pulangi Hydroelectric Power Plants in Maramag town in Bukidnon province.

The Regional Development Council in Region 10 (RDC-10) has sounded the alarm over the deteriorating power situation in Mindanao.
Arsenio L. Sebastian III, RDC-10 vice-chairman and Dr. Modesto Babaylan, RDC 10 infrastructure committee co-chairmen, disclosed recently that Pulangi is producing only 100-120MW of its 255MW rated capacity due to accumulated siltation in the Pulangi River feeding its catchment basin.
Besides the lack of available funds to dredge the Pulangi river, Sebastian said they also have no place to dump the dredged silt taken from it.
Department of Energy statistics show a rising demand for power that the present supply might be unable to meet even with the new base load plant online, he said. STEAG state power communications officer Jerome Soldervilla said RDC-10's fears are unfounded.
"As of 15 May 2006, the power plant project is 95.5% complete. Based on this figure vis-à-vis the timelines, we are on track and confident that it will commence commercial operations by end of this year," Sebastian said.
Jerome Soldervilla, STEAG state power communications officer, said RDC-10's fears are unfounded. "As of 15 May 2006, the power plant project is 95.5% complete. Based on this figure vis-à-vis the timelines, we are on track and confident that it will commence commercial operations by end of this year,"

"Right now, we are at the commissioning stage, meaning all mechanical and electrical facilities and equipment undergo series of testing," he said.
"TransCo's term of 'on-line' simply means that the power plant (through its 6-kilometer 138kV transmission line connected to TransCo's sub-station in Natumulan, Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental) is already energized and is technically connected to the grid."
Del Callar earlier said that from 2007 to 2008, power supply in Mindanao would be stable as the system gross reserve remains sufficient to meet the LFFR and spinning reserve with the scheduled commissioning of the 200 MW coal plant.
The average power supply reserve margin in the Mindanao grid from 2005 to 2008 is 7.26% with 2008 having the lowest projected power supply reserve margin of 3.93%n.
By 2009, peak demand for power in Mindanao will start to exceed the existing power capacity , with additional new capacity of about 57 MW to be needed for the year and an average of 116 MW every year thereafter.
But the environmental advocacy group Task Force Macajalar (TFC) has called the NPC projections inaccurate.
BenCyrus Ellorin, TFM spokesperson, said Mindanao can sustain its power needs without resorting to fossil fuels like oil or coal because its existing hydropower plants are sufficient to meet the island's needs if their full potential of 12,000 MW is tapped.
Latest NPC figures only show an existing power band of 982 –1,500 MW with independent power producers (IPPs) capable of another 543 MW.
NPC expects power demand in Mindanao to grow 11.8 percent from 2005-2011 and would need to have an installed capacity of 2,830MW by the end of this period with the Mindanao Coal-Fired Power Plant filling the gap.
Ellorin believes Mindanao would be better off if it rehabilitates its present hydroelectric power plants and reforest the watersheds that support them or inter-connect with the rest of the Philippine grid with the Leyte-Mindanao Inter-connection project.
The Mindanao grid is divided into three sub-grids - North, West, and South Mindanao. Of these, only North Mindanao enjoys an excess capacity while the West and South Mindanao grids have to import from the North Mindanao sub-grid to sufficiently address peak power demand in their respective areas.
The country's Power Development Plan for 2005 to 2014 stresses the importance of putting up more power generating plants in order to avert a power shortfall in the major islands of the country, particularly in Mindanao since the previous surplus has been effectively erased with the reopening of the National Steel Corporation (NSC, now Global Steel International, Inc. or GSII) steel plant in Iligan City.

Latest NPC figures only show an existing power band of 982–1,500 MW with independent power producers (IPPs) capable of another 543 MW.

If power plants were to deliver the expected power supply in the future, the time to construct them (in no. of years) would be : coal (6), hydro (5), geothermal (5), diesel (high capacity)-4, gas turbine (4), wind (4), diesel (low capacity)-1, power barge (8 mos.)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Basilan Ready For 2nd Phase Of ACCESS Mindanao Project

School children play in Basilan island. (Zamboanga Journal)

BASILAN ISLAND (Rene Carbayas / 25 May) The Department of Education (DepEd) said it is to implement the second phase of the so-called ACCESS Mindanao Project. It stands for: Acceleration and Accreditation Support Program for the Out-of-School Children & Youth in Mindanao.

The project which is under the auspices of the Nagdilaab Foundation Inc. (NFI) was presented to DepEd district supervisors and Alternative Learning System coordinators from the towns of Lamitan, Tipo-Tipo, Tuburan, Lantawan, and Maluso for future coordinative and collaborative implementation.

Esperancita Hupida, NFI project coordinator, introduced the programs and undertakings of the organization during a meeting Tuesday of NFI stakeholders and partners at the Lamitan Central Elementary School.

She said the existing literacy programs of the NFI includes the Alternative Learning System-Acceleration and Accreditation (ALS-A&E) program where some 244 out-of-school children and youths from Lantawan alone have benefited during the first phase of implementation. Some 750 slots are given for Lantawan, Tuburan, and Lamitan collectively for the second phase.

Aside from the ACCESS Mindanao Project, the NFI Literacy Program also has the Integrated Technical Education intended for out-of-school youth which is an expanded program that includes ALS-A&E and technical training on various trades such as electronics, food technology, dressmaking, rubber nursery, crab fattening, automotive, and reflexology, among others.

Some 242 OSYs from Tuburan and Sumisip towns benefited in the first phase of its implementation. For the second phase, the NFI is expecting at 70 out-of-school youth from Tuburan and Sumisip.

Jesus Tropezado, West Lamitan district supervisor, offered his full support for the project and expressed optimism the group will be able to agree on effective coordination mechanism to efficiently deliver services.

The NFI also announced that a donor country, Japan, is currently studying the putting up of proposed technical school in Lower Tablas village in Tuburan town. If approved, the school would provide technical training for the youth in the towns of Tuburan, Lamitan and Tipo-Tipo.

Teachers in Basilan were also elated about the donation of the GMA Kapuso Foundation, under its Unang Hakbang Program, which pledged to give 1,500 school bags and supplies to grade schoolers in the towns of Lamitan, Tipo-Tipo, Maluso, and Isabela City next month.

The NFI Foundation is a local organization advocating peace and development for Basilan.

Studes Finish Summer Fest In Cebu

A participant tries his skills in sewing.

CEBU (Zamboanga Journal / 25 May) Dozens of students from across the Philippines attended the five-day Civic Engagement Module of the U.S. Embassy’s “Democracy Summer Fest: Engaging Filipino Youth on Democracy through Leadership, Civic Engagement, and the Arts” program in Cebu City.

The Civic Engagement Module, the second of three five-day modules in the summer camp, ended Sunday and was co-sponsored by the U.S. Embassy with the U.S. International Visitors-Philippines Alumni Association.

It helped students gain a better sense of how to start and maintain a nongovernmental organization (NGO), and carry out community service activities.

Student Cris Evert B. Lato, from the University of the Philippines-Cebu, said what she learned most in the camp was how to listen. “It takes courage to stand up and speak but even more, to really listen to others about their needs so you can create programs that can be effective,” she said.

Some 50 students participated in workshops on youth engagement and NGO management led by Filipino civil society activists, with support from a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer and U.S. Embassy staff. The students then spent time in the community visiting NGOs, and worked on a service project in cooperation with these local NGO partners that benefited the host community.

They also worked with the Cordova/Guadalupe Cooperative, a community micro-enterprise that sews fabric scraps into clothing.

MAGHUSAY TA! By Uriel Cruz Vallecera


CEBU CITY (Uriel Vallecer / 25 May) NAKADUNGOG na ba kamo niining gitawag og anti-noise ordinance? Ordinansa kini batok sa pagsaba-saba. Nindot kining maong ordinansa kay makatabang gayod kinig dako ngadto sa mga molupyo sa Cebu City.

Giawhag ang Association of Barangay Council (ABC) ug ang Cebu City Anti-Indecency Board (CAIB) alang sa estriktong pagpatuman sa anti-noise ordinance sa mga barangay sa Cebu City.

Si Konsehal Arsenio Pacana maoy mipasar niining maong resolusyon gumikan usab sa daghang mga reklamo nga iyang nadawat gikan sa mga molupyo sa lainlaing barangay.

Sentro sa mga reklamo ang mga disko nga ipahigayon sa kabarangayan panahon nga may pista ug ang mga karaoke bars nga saba kaayo panahon sa kagabhion nga makatugaw sa pagkatulog sa mga residente.

Alang nako, mas maayo gayod nga ipatuman na kining maong ordinansa tungod kay dilio malalis nga daghan gayod kaayo ang mga karaoke bars karon nga walay kuto-kuto sa kasaba sa ilang sound system panahon sa kagabhion.

Mora bag walay respeto ang mga operator niini sa mga silingan nga natulog. Mao nga uyon kaayo ko nga ipatuman kining anti-noise ordinance aron ma-regulate ang gikusgon sa mga sound system sa mga balay-kalingawan nga magsaba-saba panahon sa kagabhion.

Akong nakita nga dili daotan ang tumong niining maong ordinansa. Dili man kini makaapekto sa negosyo niadtong mga tag-iyag karaoke bars kay dili man ipahunong ang ilang operasyon. I-regulat lang aron dili makatugaw sa mga silingan. Hinuon, kadtong dili gyod mopatuo kinahanglan gyod nga pahamtangan og disiplina aron motagam.

Hinaot usab unta nga ang pagpatuman sa maong ordinansa seryosohon sa mga tigpatuman niini. Nindot kaayong hunahunaon kon ikapatuman na kini sa hingpit kay segurado man gayod nga ikahinangop kini sa daghang mga residente.
Aduna ra bay mga karaoke bars nga naduol sa mga ospital dinhi sa dakbayan sa Sugbo. Kini sila ang usa sa angay pahamtangan niining maong ordinansa sa anti-noise.
Dalaygon usab kaayo si Konsehal Pacana nga maoy nakahunahuna niining maong ideya. Hinaot unta nga makahunahuna pa siyag dugang maayong mga ideya nga kapahimuslan sa mga Sugboanon.
Dakong dungog sa Cebu nga anhi gayod ipahigayon ang 12th ASEAN Summit. Mao nga angay gayod kining pangandaman og maayo sa mga opisyal sa Sugbo aron presentable sab ang lalawigan alang sa mga bisita.
Ganahan kong mosuporta sa mga ideya ni Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmena kaabot sa pagpangandam sa ASEAN Summit. Ang iyang mga ideya nga giisnab sa uban nindot kaayo ug seguradong makadugang kini sa atraksiyon sa Sugbo sa natad sa tuismo.
Daghan man god og mga ideya si Osmena nga makapalig-on sa turismo sa Sugbo sama sa pagpahigayon og festival sa kabarangayan sa bukiran nga bahin sa dakbayan sa Sugbo aron nga madani gayod ng mga bisita.
Angay tingai nga suportahan ug sun-on sa mga opisyal sa ubang mga dakbayan ug kalungsoran sa Sugbo ang ideya ni Osmena. Ang pagahigayon sa ASEAN Summit magbutang sa Sugbo sa panid sa kasaysayan sa turismo sa mas taas nga level kon makahunahuna lang og maayo ang mga opisyal. (Columnist Uriel Vallecera is based in Cebu province)

Cop Tagged As Suspect In Killing Of Palawan Journalist

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 25 May) Philippine authorities announced Thursday the arrest of a policeman who was implicated in the killing of a broadcaster in Palawan province.

Authorities tagged Aron Gulifardo, a member of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Palawan province as a suspect in the murder of Fernando Batul. Two others were still being hunted for the killing of Batul on Monday in Puerto Princesa City.

The National Bureau of Investigation and Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn confirmed the suspect's arrest Wednesday. Hagedorn earlier ordered the police to solve the murder of Batul within 48 hours and even offered as much as P1 million for the arrest of the gunmen.

“Initial reports said the suspect was among those hardly hit by Batul’s commentaries on the radio,” Hagedorn said.

Gulifardo was arrested inside the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame in Quezon City and would be taken back to Palawan. At least four witnesses pointed to the suspect as one of the three gunmen who shot the journalist while on his way to the radio station dyPR where he worked.

The policeman denied involvement in the attack. Batul is the 79th journalist killed since 1986. He is the 42nd journalist slain since 2001 under the Arroyo administration.

2 Killed In New Jolo Attacks

A Philippine Air Force helicopter gunner readies his machine gun during a patrol over Jolo island. Suspected Abu Sayyaf militants killed four soldiers and two civilians in separate attacks in the troubled island of Jolo, about 950 kms south of Manila. (Zamboanga Journal)

JOLO ISLAND (Zamboanga Journal / 25 May) Suspected Abu Sayyaf militants gunned down two civilians in separate attacks in the southern Filipino island of Jolo, police and military said Thursday.

Authorities said one of the victims, Ruel Bernal, 32, was shot by two men around 5.45 a.m. on Thursday near a Catholoic church in downtown Jolo just several blocks from a police outpost. Bernal, a native of Zamboanga City, was selling cigarettes, when he was attacked, it said.

The attack occurred barely a day after another civilian, Jurick Pollalos, 22, who worked at a coffee shop in downtown Jolo was killed by two gunmen. The motives of the attacks were still unknown, but a security spokesman blamed the Abu Sayyaf for the twin killings.

"We suspect the Abu Sayyaf as behind the two attacks. The killings bore the signature of the Abu Sayyaf's urban terrorists group," said Air Force Captain Jose Ritche Pabilonia, a spokesman for the Southern Command.

He said the group was also linked to the killings of four government soldiers in downtown Jolo over the weekend. "Police and military are investigating the attacks and security forces were ordered to intensify their operation against the terrorists," Pabilonia said.

The Abu Sayyaf group tied to al-Qaeda terrorist network has been blamed for the spate of killings, bombings and kidnappings in the troubled island, about 950 km south of Manila.

Washington offered as much as $5 million bounty for known Abu Sayyaf leaders, including Khadaffy Janjalani. President Gloria Arroyo also put up P100 million rewards for the capture of the group's leaders and their members dead or alive. The US included the group on its list of foreign terrorist organizations.

A Call To Arms: By Mike Banos

Earlier this week a radio journalist earned the dubious distinction of becoming the 42nd media worker to be killed under President Arroyo's tenure at Malacanang, the 79th since 1986, the fifth in the first five months of this year.

It has also won the Philippines the equally dubious distinction of being the most dangerous country in the world for journalists, second only to strife-torn Iraq. And how does Malacanang react to this appalling genocide in its constituency? Urging journalists to carry firearms to defend themselves. Hello?

Even Northern Mindanao regional police director, Chief Superintendent Florante Baguio admits this is no guarantee for the safety of journalists'. He cited the case of the radio commentator who managed to fire back at his assailants but still died from his wounds.
The Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC) concurs. We thank the PNP's PRO-10 for their assurance of support and protection but again, this is no assurance of safety for the members of the fourth estate.

The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) said in a statement both police and the military should ensure the safety of journalists because arming journalists is an admission of failure from the authorities to protect not only media but anybody from armed assault and perpetrates what NUJP spokesperson Joe Torres calls "the culture of impunity."

The body count of murdered journalists under the GMA presidency already exceeds that of the 14 year Marcos dictatorship and similarly unabated attacks on human rights activists will soon make the record for that death count history also.

The PNP has admitted that, of the 79 journalists killed since the so-called democratic restoration of 1986, only five cases have been resolved by the courts, and in none of those instances was the mastermind ever brought to justice, perhaps because many of those responsible are themselves persons in authority.

The failure of this administration to protect the Filipino people, journalists among them, is its failure to defend democracy. On top of that, it has the gall to continue trying to censor media, adding insult to the injury already heaped on the "free" Philippine press for this conspiracy to bury the truth from its constituents.
Now, the deaths of our colleagues has become fair game in the name of political survival and gamesmanship. Enough is indeed enough. Let this insult on journalists to protect themselves with guns be our battle cry and call to arms.
The NUJP is right in saying let us fight this battle with the weapons we know best -- our profession, our pens, our cameras, our microphones.
Over and above that, may I also humbly exhort our colleagues o continue doing with fervor their excellent record of reportage which has unveiled the graft and corruption in our society responsible for this genocide of those who dare bring their lies, deceit and thievery into the light of day. Tama na! Sobra na! (Columnist Mike Banos is based in Cagayan de Oro City)