[PHOTO -HEAVY SECURITY With a pair of binoculars, a guard surveys the surroundings of the US Embassy in Manila from a newly constructed outpost protruding over the wall. Security was increased at US embassies and consulates around the world following an attack that killed the US ambassador in Libya. RICHARD A. REYES]

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 17, 2012 (INQUIRER) By Michael Lim Ubac - Despite spreading anti-American violence, Malacañang is not taking steps to block the anti-Islam video “The Innocence of Muslims” in the Philippines.

The police, however, have stepped up security around the US Embassy on Roxas Boulevard, Manila, in anticipation of local protests against the video.

Even the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest Moro insurgent group in the country, is not taking action to protest the video. On Sunday, it rejected a call from the international terrorist network al-Qaeda to attack US targets over the video.

Ghazali Jaafar, MILF chief political officer, said the group had instructed its 12,000 members to observe a ceasefire agreement with the government, and not to attack US interests in the country.

Online access

“We do not live in the dark ages, there are rules and laws that need to be followed,” Jaafar told Agence France-Presse. “We have an existing ceasefire with the Philippines, and we will not violate that.”

“Even in war, there are international norms that need to be accepted, including the protection of diplomats and embassies,” he said.

[PHOTO -Palace: Embassies, envoys safe in Phl: A member of the PNP-Special Action Force mans his position outside the US embassy in Manila. US embassies across the world ramped up security following calls by al-Qaeda for more attacks against US missions. AP]

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma on Sunday said the government would not ask YouTube to block online access to the video in the Philippines.

“There are neither precedent nor existing conditions that may prompt us to consider moving in that direction,” Coloma said in a text message.

YouTube parent company Google has decided to block access to the video in Libya and Egypt as a compassionate step to stem anger in the Muslim world over the incendiary film.

“The Innocence of Muslims,” previously titled “The Innocence of Bn Laden,” is an anti-Islamic film made by American producer Sam Bacille, whose real name is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. It depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a buffon, a womanizer and a child molester. It was directed by softporn filmmaker Alan Roberts, whom Nakoula reportedly hired without telling him he was directing a piece of anti-Islamic propaganda.

Spreading protests


The film was shown once in a Hollywood theater, then two trailers were released on YouTube in July. The trailers were dubbed into Arabic, then spread by Egyptian-American blogger Moris Sadek, a Coptic Christian.

A two-minute excerpt from the trailer was broadcast in Egypt on September 2, sparking violent protests in Cairo.

The protests spread to Libya, Yemen and other Arab and Muslim nations over the following days.

On September 11, the 12th anniversary of the al-Qarda attacks on New York and Washington, the protests in Benghazi, Libya, turned deadly, with an armed group launching an attack on the US Consulate there. US Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three American members of his staff were killed in the attack.

Coloma said the government was watching out for similar threats to Philippine security.

He said government security forces could neutralize any attempt at violence over the video.

Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang said as much in a separate text message.

“I trust that viewing it will not fill you with hatred for America,” Carandang said, probably thinking he was answering a question from a Muslim reporter.

Freedom of expression

A third Palace official on Sunday said the government could not block the video because the Internet was covered by the freedom of expression.

“A lot of videos may be considered offensive by some sectors, but that’s also part of free speech,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview.

Valte said the National Capital Region Police Office had already upgraded security around the US Embassy in Manila, although there were “no specific threats” against Americans and other Westerners in the Philippines.

“The envoys and the US embassy personnel here in the Philippines do not need to flee because our Muslim community has always conducted themselves with goodwill and sobriety. So there’s no need to flee. There’s no danger [to] them here in Manila,” Valte said.

She said the tighter security around the US Embassy was the government’s response to US President Barack Obama’s order to US diplomatic missions to increase security amid spreading threats of violence against Americans. With reports from AP and AFP

DFA condemns killing of US envoy in Libya By Fat Reyes

[Photo -J. Christopher Stevens, U.S. Ambassador to Libya, who was killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, eastern Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012. (State Department)]

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday condemned the killing of a US diplomat and his staff in Libya, saying that the act should likewise be deplored by the international community.

“We are outraged by the horrific criminal and senseless act of violence in Benghazi which should be condemned by the international community,” Raul Hernandez, DFA spokesperson, said in a press briefing.

Hernandez added that the act was a “serious violation of long standing norms of international law” and that diplomatic and consular agents were not be harmed as diplomatic and consular premises were “inviolable.”

The DFA, in a statement, noted that it was also taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety of its diplomats and missions in the country, and to keep them from any intrusion or damage.

“The DFA is closely coordinating with police and law enforcement agencies in the Philippines to step up security and ensure that diplomatic and consular missions of other countries are protected to prevent any attack on these establishments,” it said.

“We condole with the families of US ambassador Steven and embassy staff who perished in their line of duty particularly in their efforts to help Libyan people pursue a just and democratic society,” he added.

Meanwhile, the United States Embassy in Manila also mourned the deaths of their colleagues in Libya as police heightened its security measures at its building along Roxas Boulevard.

“We are deeply saddened by the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and three of our colleagues in Libya. We echo President Obama’s and Secretary Clinton’s statements condemning the attack as a senseless act of violence,” Tina Malone, US embassy spokesperson said in an emailed message.

[PHOTO -Al Qaeda calls for more attacks on embassies: Glass, debris and overturned furniture are strewn inside a room in the gutted U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, after an attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Ibrahim Alaguri)]

She added that US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas also offered prayers for their departed friends, and vowed to do their best to follow in their footsteps.

“We mourn this tragic loss, and the families of our departed friends and colleagues are in our thoughts and prayers. We will do our best to honor and carry forward their memory and their service,” Malone quoted Thomas as saying.

US ambassador Chris Stevens and three others were killed in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi late Tuesday by armed Islamists outraged over an American-made Internet video mocking Islam.

Radio reports had earlier said that following the attacks, the Manila Police District set up concrete barriers at the embassy’s main gate and deployed additional personnel to guard the embassy premises.

Malone, in her emailed message, said that the tightened security was part of the directive from US President Barack Obama Wednesday to increase security at diplomatic posts around the world. She added that the embassy remained open for regular business.

“The US Embassy appreciates the strong cooperation and support that we receive from the Philippine National Police and security authorities in this regard, and we remain open for regular business,” she said.

Stay safe, Filipino workers in Muslim countries told By Tina G. Santos Philippine Daily Inquirer

[PHOTO -Filipino workers in the Middle East, INQUIRER PHOTO / GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE]

MANILA, Philippines—Be respectful of your host government’s state religion and its symbols.

This was the advice given by a migrant rights’ group to Filipino workers in the Middle East amid escalating violent protests by Muslims in the region against the movie “Innocence of Muslims” that was made by an American and uploaded on YouTube.

Migrante-Middle East urged Filipino workers, particularly those in Yemen, Libya and Egypt to steer clear of street protests.

“Stay clear of protesting crowds, especially near the diplomatic outposts of the United States and similar places that are targets of massive protests. Take the necessary precautions and limit any unnecessary movements within these countries,” advised Migrante regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona in a statement.

Monterona said his organization believed that the protests could spread to other Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates where there are large concentrations of Filipino workers.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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