HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS WEEK...

ISLAMIC CALIPHATE NOW IN PH, SAYS JIHADIST GROUP IN LANAO DEL SUR

OCT 7 ---MEMBERS of Ghuraba, a local jihadist group in Lanao del Sur, have declared that an Islamic
caliphate
or Khilafah Islamiyah has been established in the country and has started fulfilling its mission of propagating its doctrines and beliefs. Ghuraba is Arabic for strangers or foreigners. “The Islamic caliphate has just begun,” said a member of Ghuraba at their secret and members-only group at the social networking site Facebook. He was referring to the Khilafah governance that was last seen during the Ottoman Empire in Turkey.

The group’s recent declaration was in contrast to claims of Philippine authorities that aside from occasional proclamations of several militant groups in Mindanao, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has not yet established its presence in the country. Sources said Ghuraba is working to establish an Islamic Caliphate in the country and is headed by a certain Humam Abdul Najid, leader of the upstart Khilafah Islamiyah Mindanao-Black Flag Movement (KIM-BFM). According to the same sources, the group was responsible for several violent criminal activities in Mindanao, including the killing of American Michael Alan Turner in Cagayan de Oro City on February 17, 2013. Ghuraba is also known in the United Kingdom, Pakistan and Indonesia.
Meanwhile, local leaders in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) continued to deny the presence of ISIS-like groups in Mindanao.
* READ MORE...

ALSO: Jihadists’ contact in Mindanao named  

RELATED NEWS SEPT 27 --PHOTO: Amin Baco. A Malaysian terrorist believed to be a sympathizer of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and who may have been involved in several bombings in Mindanao is still in the country, a source from the intelligence service of the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Saturday. The intelligence officer identified the Malaysian as Amin Baco, who also goes by the alias Abu Jihad. The officer provided The Manila Times a photo of Baco, who he said is a member of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). According to the source, Baco has pledged allegiance to the ISIS. “Amin Baco or Abu Jihad is a JI member and he has been in the country for a long period,” the source, who goes by the codename “Pokemon,” said. He added that Baco had a hand in past bombings in Basilan and Sulu.

The officer also showed the Times a chart of the structure of the Khilafa Islamiyah Movement (KIM), which, like the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), pledged allegiance to ISIS. He said Baco’s photo and the flow chart were extracted from the mobile phone of one of the ASG members killed during a recent battle with government security forces in Sulu.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) earlier said reports about the recruitment of ISI members in the country have not been verified. “They are basically correct in saying that there’s no IS member that came from Syria who is presently here in the country. But the idea of establishing an Islamic caliphate is already here,” the source said.

He noted that Buco is one of the five JI members who had been hiding in Sulu under the protection of the ASG that last week threatened to behead one of two Germans they are holding if their demand for a P250 million ransom was not paid. The intelligence officer said the ASG may behead the Germans —Stefan Victor Okonek, 70, and Herike Diesen, 55—as a show of sympathy to ISIS. Jihadists have beheaded American, British and French journalists in the past weeks. “The ASG is a supporter of ISIS, they have already pledged allegiance to ISIS and they (ASG) are waiting for the reply. It could be that they threatened to behead the German hostages so they would be noticed,” he explained. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Putting the ISIS Threat in Perspective  

RELATED NEWS SEPT 14 --This is not a well-armed fighting force, but a ragtag collection of militants using secondhand weapons. Secretary of State John Kerry doesn’t seem to share the Pentagon chief’s foreboding, given how ISIS fighters scattered “the minute we hit them” as they tried to take the Kurdish city of Erbil in northern Iraq. “These guys are not 10 ft. tall.
They’re not as disciplined as everybody thinks,” Kerry said on Sept. 5. “They’re not as organized as everybody thinks.”

So who’s right? To be sure, nothing grabs attention like the barbaric series of videotaped ISIS beheadings of Westerners, which continued this weekend with the release of footage of the murder of British aid worker David Haines. Such horrors generate a visceral bloodlust, and they have achieved their goal: President Obama declared last week that the U.S. military and its allies are determined to destroy ISIS. “We have countries in this [Middle East] region, countries outside of this region, in addition to the United States, all of whom are prepared to engage in military assistance, in actual strikes, if that is what is required,” Kerry said Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation.

There’s a parallel to al-Qaeda here. Both Sunni groups leapt to prominence only after attacking the West with its own weapons. Al-Qaeda did it with airliners; ISIS has done it with the intrepid journalists and aid workers they captured and then murdered. Their chosen tools highlight how impotent they actually are. That became even clearer last week when the Pentagon released its first comprehensive accounting of the ISIS targets it has hit in its month-long series of more than 150 air strikes. The single largest category — 88 of 212 individual targets, or 42% — is “armed vehicles.” Not “armored vehicles,” like a tank or personnel carrier, but civilian pickups with machine guns mounted in the rear. A pair of tanks and assorted other armor accounts for a scant 7% of the targets.

Roughly 10% are antiaircraft artillery and locations described as “IED Emplacements, Mortar Positions, [and] Machine Gun Locations.” The “facilities” on Central Command’s hit list include “Fighting Positions, Checkpoints [and] Observation Posts.” This is not an arsenal, but a ragtag collection, including gear the U.S. supplied to the Iraqi army, which ISIS seized after driving Iraqi forces from Mosul (the U.S. has attacked 37 ISIS Humvees built in Mishawaka, Ind.). * READ MORE...

ALSO: Metro traffic unmanageable, Tolentino admits 

OCT 7 --Traffic gridlocks will worsen next year unless the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority gets additional funding to hire personnel to man traffic in major roads, according to MMDA chief Francis Tolentino. AFP PHOTO. IF you think the traffic nightmare in Metro Manila can’t get any worse, think again. Chairman Francis Tolentino of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) admitted on Tuesday that the traffic situation has become unmanageable and will worsen next year if the agency will not be given additional funds to enable it to hire more personnel. Speaking at the Bulong Pulungan media forum at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City (Metro Manila), Tolentino said the MMDA will be needing volunteers to man traffic on Edsa, Katipunan, Roxas Boulevard and other major thoroughfares if the agency will not be able to get back the 15 percent slashed from the MMDA’s budget for 2015.

“I want you to realize that the current traffic situation is really unmanageable when we lack three items. Number one, budget. MMDA’s budget for 2015 was slashed by 15 percent. If we don’t get that 15 percent [back], we will need volunteers to man Katipunan, to man Roxas Boulevard. That is why I volunteered for the last two days to man traffic myself. It will be hard next year,” he told the media forum. Tolentino said Metro Manila also needs an additional 137 kilometers of new roads as proposed by the Japanese-initiated transportation roadmap called the Dream Plan. According to the MMDA chairman, some residential subdivisions should be opened to vehicular traffic during certain hours. “Maraming magagalit [Many from such subdivisions will get angry] but that’s the bitter pill that we have to swallow,” he said. Tolentino said Metro Manila needs a “leapfrogging” in the mass transit system.
“So when we speak of modernization, I think big corporations should be involved. The government probably might find it long and difficult to shoulder the entire burden of modernizing the mass transit system,” he noted. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Traffic flow on C-5 road praised 

OCT 8 --Motorists going to and from Eastwood City and nearby Libis area are now experiencing a smooth flow of traffic in a new traffic scheme of the Metro Manila Development Authority along Circumferential Road-5 (C-5). Jericho Go, Senior Vice President of Megaworld Corp., said the travel time from Katipunan Avenue to Eastwood City was down to 10 minutes. “Now I have more time when I reach Eastwood City or Fort Bonifacio to do additional work,” said he said during a Bulong Pulungan forum in Pasay City. According to Go, it takes 20 minutes to go to Eastwood City from Fort Bonifacio, a journey that usually to at least an hour before the MMDA implemented its synchronized traffic light system on several intersections along C-5, including Calle Industria, Greenmeadows, Lanuza and Eastwood City. “Hats off to Chairman (Francis) Tolentino,” he said.

MMDA’s policy-making body, the Special Traffic Committee of the Metro Manila Council, recently passed a resolution designating C-5’s innermost lane for trucks from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily. A similar lane is set for jeepneys to further smoothen traffic flow. Private vehicles coming from the north can now enter Eastwood City through Eastwood Avenue by turning left at the intersection near Mercury Drug and Citibank Building. The can exit going to Makati and Pasig through Economia Road, taking Calle Industria before making a left turn at C-5. They can also exit through Chapel St. near St. John Paul II Parish and turn left to C-5 during weekdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.THIS IS THE FULL REPORT

ALSO: Tagalog 3rd most widely spoken foreign language in US homes—study 

OCT 7 --This table, published by the US Center of Immigration Studies, shows that Tagalog, or Filipino, is the third most widely spoken foreign language in homes in the US. Photo from the Center for Immigration Studies. MANILA, Philippines – A study in the US has found that Tagalog is the third most widely spoken foreign language in households, following Spanish and Chinese. The 2013 American Community Survey (ACS) conducted by the US Census Bureau found that there were approximately 1.6 million speakers of Filipino, putting it third behind Spanish (38.4 million) and Chinese (3 million).

The other languages after Tagalog were Vietnamese (1.4 million), French (1.3 million), and Korean and Arabic (1.1 million each). The study defined Tagalog as “the national language of the Philippines.” The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) noted that the number of people speaking a foreign language in their home has reached an all-time high of 61.8 million, higher by 2.2 million since 2010. “The largest increases from 2010 to 2013 were for speakers of Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic. One in five U.S. residents now speaks a foreign language at home,” Steven Camarota, Director of Research and Karen Zeigler, demographer, of CIS, said in their article here published on October 2014.*READ MORE...

ALSO: San Francisco certifies Tagalog as 3rd required language in city affairs 

RELATED NEW APRIL 14 -- --PHOTO: San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee. SAN FRANCISCO, California – Filipino (Tagalog), the
most commonly spoken Filipino language in the Bay Area and the official language of the Philippines, is now a third required language, in addition to Chinese and Spanish, city officials announced April 2 at the Bayanihan Community Center. Mayor Edwin M. Lee with Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, Supervisors John Avalos and Jane Kim and local community partners today announced the certification of Tagalog as covered under the City’s Language Access Ordinance. San Francisco’s Language Access Ordinance was established in 2001 and is one of the most comprehensive local language laws in the nation.

The ordinance requires city departments that interact with the public to provide translated materials, interpreters at public meetings and other services. Several City Departments already provide services in Tagalog and an array of other languages to meet state and federal requirements, but the City’s ordinance requires much more rigorous study and provision of multilingual services. More than 112 different languages are spoken in the San Francisco Bay Area and 45 percent of all San Francisco residents do not speak English at home. “San Francisco is a model for the nation in welcoming immigrants and empowering communities, and we are committed to doing even better on behalf of our immigrant populations,” said Lee. “With today’s action, we are ensuring that the more than 10,000 Tagalog-speaking city residents who are limited English speakers have access to the same information and programs as every other San Franciscans, so that they too can share in the success of our city.”

“The Filipino community in San Francisco is an important partner who has helped make our city successful,” said Board President Chiu, author of major amendments to the Language Access Ordinance made in 2009. “This certification is an affirmation of the hard work and contributions of all our language communities and another proud moment for the San Francisco family,” Chiu added. * READ MORE...

ALSO Philstar Opinion: ISIS in the Philippines    

Visiting Europe on Sept. 18, 2014, President Benigno S. Aquino III was asked during an open forum with European investors whether the radical jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has spread to the Philippines. The chief executive gave a safe answer. He said: The Moro Islamic Liberation Front “have said they themselves are resisting IS encroachment into the Bangsamoro. They have not pledged allegiance to the so called caliphate.”  “What we have in the Philippines currently are people who used to say they were affiliates of Al Qaeda. Now that IS seems to be on the ascendancy, they are now saying they are affiliates of IS. And if tomorrow a new group comes about, I assume they will join that group or they will be the ones forming that new group to take over,” the President added. The MILF, Aquino explained, will police the Bangsamoro region. “They know the players in that particular region. They stay there. They are empowered to resolve longstanding conflicts.” As to reports by neighboring countries that some of their citizens have gone to the conflict areas like Iraq or Syria, mostly by way of Turkey, the President said, “we have had no hard evidence Filipinos are already engaged (with the IS).”

Aquino, however, acknowledged there is a significant Filipino population, 1.2 million people, in just two countries alone, in the Middle East, who might be recruited and brainwashed by IS organizers. Still, he said, there had been no cases of Filipino suicide bombers. And “when there is a conflict, it usually devolves into a personal level, rather than ideology or religious extremism.” From the President’s answers, one can conclude IS has not spread to the southern Philippines. And if it has, there is little to worry about. The MILF will take care of it. In any case, Aquino conceded, “this threat is a threat we all have to face.”  The United States has vowed to “degrade and ultimately destroy” Islamic State militants who holed up of a swath of land from Syria across the border and deep into western and northern Iraq. The air strikes within Iraq, according to President Obama, “have protected American personnel and facilities, killed [Islamic State] fighters, destroyed weapons, and given space for Iraqi and Kurdish forces to reclaim key territory. These strikes have also helped save the lives of thousands of innocent men, women and children.” In June, ISIS took control of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and declared a caliphate. * READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

‘Islamic caliphate now in PH’


A jihadist known as Abu 'Atikah al Muhajir posted several photographs purporting to show two "lions of the Arabian Peninsula" who joined his group in the southern Philippines. The photographs [one shown above] and a brief accompanying statement were posted on jihadist forums on Oct. 2 and were obtained by the SITE Intelligence Group, which also translated the statement. Abu 'Atikah identified himself as one of "your mujahideen brothers in Tawhid and Jihad Group in the Land of the Philippines of Pride" and attributed the statement to the "Islamic Emirate of Mindanao (Soon)."

MANILA, OCTOBER 13, 2014 (MANILA TIMES) by MOH I. SAADUDDIN CORRESPONDENT - MEMBERS of Ghuraba, a local jihadist group in Lanao del Sur, have declared that an Islamic caliphate or Khilafah Islamiyah has been established in the country and has started fulfilling its mission of propagating its doctrines and beliefs.

Ghuraba is Arabic for strangers or foreigners.

“The Islamic caliphate has just begun,” said a member of Ghuraba at their secret and members-only group at the social networking site Facebook.

He was referring to the Khilafah governance that was last seen during the Ottoman Empire in Turkey.

The group’s recent declaration was in contrast to claims of Philippine authorities that aside from occasional proclamations of several militant groups in Mindanao, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has not yet established its presence in the country.

Sources said Ghuraba is working to establish an Islamic Caliphate in the country and is headed by a certain Humam Abdul Najid, leader of the upstart Khilafah Islamiyah Mindanao-Black Flag Movement (KIM-BFM).

According to the same sources, the group was responsible for several violent criminal activities in Mindanao, including the killing of American Michael Alan Turner in Cagayan de Oro City on February 17, 2013.

Ghuraba is also known in the United Kingdom, Pakistan and Indonesia.

Meanwhile, local leaders in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) continued to deny the presence of ISIS-like groups in Mindanao.

* ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman and ARMM police regional director Chief Supt. Noel delos Reyes earlier dismissed as “hearsay” reports about recruitments by the ISIS.

Even the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) denied the existence of such groups but warned about their virus-like ideology that could contaminate disgruntled Muslims in Mindanao.

Reports indicated that Muslim cleric Jamil “Mutawwa” Yahya, who is based in Marawi City, has been very vocal in declaring to his followers his strong support to the ISIS.

On Saturday, during a congregational prayer for Eid’l Adha or Feast of the Sacrifice, Yahya professed his loyalty to ISIS and even challenged the military and the police to arrest him.

Reportedly the organizer of the gathering in Marawi City, he confirmed the mass convergence.

“It is not only 100 who made the bai’ah but hundreds, old men, youth, women, even young children. There are still many who wish to make the pledge,” Yahya was quoted as saying.

These developments came after other radical terrorist groups undertook their bai-ah or pledge of allegiance to the caliphate of the ISIS.

A recent video uploaded in YouTube by a group Ansarol Khilafah on September 8, showed 20 masked men holding high-powered weapons led by Abdul Basit Usman.

Usman, an ethnic Maguindanaoan and bomb expert with links to the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and the Southeast Asian terror organization Jema’ah Islamiyah (JI), has a $1 million reward on his head.

He was earlier reported killed by an American drone attack in Pakistan but that report turned out to be false.
Aside from the ASG and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM) has also pledged loyalty to ISIS.

In Marawi City, the influence of the ISIS is reportedly having a positive impact on local business especially among vendors selling pirated digital-video-discs (DVDs) in public markets.

A vendor said they have now reached “Series 8” of their best selling DVDs that feature the gathering in Masjid Islamic Center with Yahya’s followers. Reports from television were also included in the videos.

The videos show footage of the ISIS’s mujahideen [soldiers of Islam] in Iraq and Syria, including mass killing of infidels or apostates who allegedly betrayed the ISIS, with some portions aimed at indoctrinating the viewers.

Aside from DVDs, pamphlets and e-books are being freely distributed to select local civilians containing the extreme ideology authored by al-Qaedah clerics Osama Bin Laden, Anwar Awlaki, Hambali who are all advocating and calling for global jihad (holy war).

EARLIER RELATED NEWS MANILA TIMES

Jihadists’ contact in Mindanao namedSeptember 27, 2014 11:50 pm
by ANTHONY VARGAS AND MOH I. SAADUDDIN CORRESPONDENTS MANILA TIMES


Amin Baco

A Malaysian terrorist believed to be a sympathizer of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and who may have been involved in several bombings in Mindanao is still in the country, a source from the intelligence service of the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Saturday.

The intelligence officer identified the Malaysian as Amin Baco, who also goes by the alias Abu Jihad. The officer provided The Manila Times a photo of Baco, who he said is a member of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

According to the source, Baco has pledged allegiance to the ISIS.

“Amin Baco or Abu Jihad is a JI member and he has been in the country for a long period,” the source, who goes by the codename “Pokemon,” said. He added that Baco had a hand in past bombings in Basilan and Sulu.

The officer also showed the Times a chart of the structure of the Khilafa Islamiyah Movement (KIM), which, like the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), pledged allegiance to ISIS.

He said Baco’s photo and the flow chart were extracted from the mobile phone of one of the ASG members killed during a recent battle with government security forces in Sulu.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) earlier said reports about the recruitment of ISI members in the country have not been verified.

“They are basically correct in saying that there’s no IS member that came from Syria who is presently here in the country. But the idea of establishing an Islamic caliphate is already here,” the source said.

He noted that Buco is one of the five JI members who had been hiding in Sulu under the protection of the ASG that last week threatened to behead one of two Germans they are holding if their demand for a P250 million ransom was not paid.
The intelligence officer said the ASG may behead the Germans —Stefan Victor Okonek, 70, and Herike Diesen, 55—as a show of sympathy to ISIS. Jihadists have beheaded American, British and French journalists in the past weeks.

“The ASG is a supporter of ISIS, they have already pledged allegiance to ISIS and they (ASG) are waiting for the reply. It could be that they threatened to behead the German hostages so they would be noticed,” he explained.

* Meanwhile, local leaders urged Muslims not to join extremists groups amid reports that the influence of ISIS on local jihadist groups had grown.

“The practice of extremism is not allowed [in Islam]. Let us not join them,” Maguindanao Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu said, citing reports that the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) had been influenced by the ISIS to persuade members to pledge their allegiance or bai’ah to ISIS.

“They should not be extreme, God did not command [humans] to kill in order to gain peace in their religion,” the governor said.

He appealed to the public to immediately report to the authorities any activities of groups that had expressed sympathy to the ISIS.

An expert explained that bai’ah is mostly given by the Muslim sect Sufi and extremists groups, including the JI.

“Many of the members [of JI] also felt psychologically trapped by the bai’ah that they have given to the leaders. They fear that by leaving the group or disobeying the orders, they would be committing grave sin that would incur the wrath of God because the pledge that they made was in His name. They also fear being labeled as traitor or betrayer,” Muhammad Haniff Hassan, a famous Malaysian expert on counter ideology, said in a post on his website.

Reports said that in Marawi City, the bai-ah was conducted inside the Masjid Islamic Center on September 19 by civilians. The event was reportedly organized by a Muslim cleric, Jamil “Mutawwa” Yahya.

After confirming the report, Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr. condemned the incident and vowed to prevent local groups from joining the armed movement.

The incident is still being investigated by the authorities, but a police officer who verified the report said members of the KIM were behind the gathering.

The KIM, also known as Khilafah Islamiyah Mindanao-Black Flag Movement, has been striving for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in the country since 2011.

FROM TIME MAGAZINE, RELATED NEWS SEPT 14, 2014

Putting the ISIS Threat in Perspective Mark Thompson @MarkThompson_DC Sept. 14, 2014 


An ISIS militant in Raqqa, Syria, Reuters

This is not a well-armed fighting force, but a ragtag collection of militants using secondhand weapons

Secretary of State John Kerry doesn’t seem to share the Pentagon chief’s foreboding, given how ISIS fighters scattered “the minute we hit them” as they tried to take the Kurdish city of Erbil in northern Iraq. “These guys are not 10 ft. tall.

They’re not as disciplined as everybody thinks,” Kerry said on Sept. 5. “They’re not as organized as everybody thinks.”

So who’s right?

To be sure, nothing grabs attention like the barbaric series of videotaped ISIS beheadings of Westerners, which continued this weekend with the release of footage of the murder of British aid worker David Haines. Such horrors generate a visceral bloodlust, and they have achieved their goal: President Obama declared last week that the U.S. military and its allies are determined to destroy ISIS.

“We have countries in this [Middle East] region, countries outside of this region, in addition to the United States, all of whom are prepared to engage in military assistance, in actual strikes, if that is what is required,” Kerry said Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation.

There’s a parallel to al-Qaeda here. Both Sunni groups leapt to prominence only after attacking the West with its own weapons. Al-Qaeda did it with airliners; ISIS has done it with the intrepid journalists and aid workers they captured and then murdered. Their chosen tools highlight how impotent they actually are.

That became even clearer last week when the Pentagon released its first comprehensive accounting of the ISIS targets it has hit in its month-long series of more than 150 air strikes.

The single largest category — 88 of 212 individual targets, or 42% — is “armed vehicles.” Not “armored vehicles,” like a tank or personnel carrier, but civilian pickups with machine guns mounted in the rear. A pair of tanks and assorted other armor accounts for a scant 7% of the targets.

Roughly 10% are antiaircraft artillery and locations described as “IED Emplacements, Mortar Positions, [and] Machine Gun Locations.” The “facilities” on Central Command’s hit list include “Fighting Positions, Checkpoints [and] Observation Posts.”

This is not an arsenal, but a ragtag collection, including gear the U.S. supplied to the Iraqi army, which ISIS seized after driving Iraqi forces from Mosul (the U.S. has attacked 37 ISIS Humvees built in Mishawaka, Ind.).

* Of course, foes don’t need huge and costly weapons to be effective. The 9/11 hijackers murdered over 3,000 armed with nothing more than $2 box cutters. But they did that by exploiting yawning vulnerabilities in commercial-aviation security. The terrorists’ caginess must be trumped by wily thinking by the U.S. and its allies, a strategy in which air strikes can only play a supporting role.

Paltry gear shouldn’t been viewed as evidence of ISIS’ inherent weakness. It is waging war on a far broader battlefield than that being attacked by U.S. warplanes. That means it cannot be defeated by military means alone. Until the underlying causes for ISIS’s rise — the anti-Sunni governments in Iraq and Syria chief among them — are dealt with, ISIS will pose a real threat to the civilized world.

But it’s also important to realize that ISIS has succeeded only where it has been unopposed. Its proclaimed state is in the middle of one of the world’s most-heavily-armed regions, and it has shown little ability or desire to challenge a motivated military force.

They say nature abhors a vacuum. So do terrorists, judging by the CIA’s assessment Thursday that ISIS has grown from 10,000 to as many as 31,500 fighters over the summer, owing in no small part to its military success. They’re eager to plant their black flags in ungoverned terrain. That the West permitted such a fertile field in which ISIS could take root — in fact, all but plowed and sowed it — is the real harvest of the Iraq War.

FROM THE MANILA TIMES

Metro traffic unmanageable, Tolentino admits October 7, 2014 11:03 pm
by FERNAN MARASIGAN REPORTER MANILA TIMES


Traffic gridlocks will worsen next year unless the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority gets additional funding to hire personnel to man traffic in major roads, according to MMDA chief Francis Tolentino. AFP PHOTO

IF you think the traffic nightmare in Metro Manila can’t get any worse, think again.

Chairman Francis Tolentino of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) admitted on Tuesday that the traffic situation has become unmanageable and will worsen next year if the agency will not be given additional funds to enable it to hire more personnel.

Speaking at the Bulong Pulungan media forum at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City (Metro Manila), Tolentino said the MMDA will be needing volunteers to man traffic on Edsa, Katipunan, Roxas Boulevard and other major thoroughfares if the agency will not be able to get back the 15 percent slashed from the MMDA’s budget for 2015.

“I want you to realize that the current traffic situation is really unmanageable when we lack three items. Number one, budget. MMDA’s budget for 2015 was slashed by 15 percent. If we don’t get that 15 percent [back], we will need volunteers to man Katipunan, to man Roxas Boulevard. That is why I volunteered for the last two days to man traffic myself. It will be hard next year,” he told the media forum.

Tolentino said Metro Manila also needs an additional 137 kilometers of new roads as proposed by the Japanese-initiated transportation roadmap called the Dream Plan.

According to the MMDA chairman, some residential subdivisions should be opened to vehicular traffic during certain hours.

“Maraming magagalit [Many from such subdivisions will get angry] but that’s the bitter pill that we have to swallow,” he said.

Tolentino said Metro Manila needs a “leapfrogging” in the mass transit system.

“So when we speak of modernization, I think big corporations should be involved. The government probably might find it long and difficult to shoulder the entire burden of modernizing the mass transit system,” he noted.

* The MMDA chief said plans for subway systems are in the works.

“I believe the subway system will help. Flooding would not be an issue even if you dig 10 or 30 meters in Edsa. But we need huge investments apart from the P2.6 trillion mentioned by the Dream Plan,” he added.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) initiated Dream Plan, which calls for an investment of P2.6 trillion to decongest traffic.

Tolentino said the Dream Plan coincides with the MMDA’s project called “Greenprint 2030.”

The Dream Plan seeks the construction of 137 kilometers of new roads for Metro Manila, 78 kilometers of urban expressways and 200 kilometers of new light railway system that will include the Light Rail Transit 1 extension going to Bacoor, Cavite, and Metro Rail Transit 7 going to San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.

The first part of the plan involves a P520-billion short-term program of decongesting traffic between now and 2016.

The short-term program contains proposals to fill missing links in major thoroughfares, expand expressways serving as entrances to Metro Manila and develop rail and road-based mass transport systems, among others.

In the same forum, Megaworld senior vice president Jericho Go commended the MMDA for implementing a new traffic scheme in Eastwood City and Libis along C5 in Quezon City.

According to Go, the flow of vehicles going to Eastwood City and nearby Libis area greatly improved after the MMDA reactivated its synchronized traffic light system on several intersections along E. Rodriguez Jr. Ave (C-5) including Calle Industria, Greenmeadows, Lanuza and Eastwood City.

He said the implementation of the new scheme has produced immediate results with more motorists reporting that their travel time going to Eastwood City has been reduced by more than half.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Traffic flow on C-5 road praised By Joel E. Zurbano | Oct. 08, 2014 at 12:01am


M.M.D.A. EXPERIMENT — With traffic lights turned off, an MMDA traffic enforcer directs traffic along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City yesterday as part of the agency’s experimental traffic scheme in the metropolis. The scheme involves the use of MMDA personnel instead of traffic lights to manage traffic in the area during the 6 a.m.-9 a.m. and 3 p.m.-6 p.m. rush hours. (Michael Varcas)

Motorists going to and from Eastwood City and nearby Libis area are now experiencing a smooth flow of traffic in a new traffic scheme of the Metro Manila Development Authority along Circumferential Road-5 (C-5).

Jericho Go, Senior Vice President of Megaworld Corp., said the travel time from Katipunan Avenue to Eastwood City was down to 10 minutes.

“Now I have more time when I reach Eastwood City or Fort Bonifacio to do additional work,” said he said during a Bulong Pulungan forum in Pasay City.

According to Go, it takes 20 minutes to go to Eastwood City from Fort Bonifacio, a journey that usually to at least an hour before the MMDA implemented its synchronized traffic light system on several intersections along C-5, including Calle Industria, Greenmeadows, Lanuza and Eastwood City.

“Hats off to Chairman (Francis) Tolentino,” he said.

MMDA’s policy-making body, the Special Traffic Committee of the Metro Manila Council, recently passed a resolution designating C-5’s innermost lane for trucks from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily.

A similar lane is set for jeepneys to further smoothen traffic flow.

Private vehicles coming from the north can now enter Eastwood City through Eastwood Avenue by turning left at the intersection near Mercury Drug and Citibank Building.

The can exit going to Makati and Pasig through Economia Road, taking Calle Industria before making a left turn at C-5.

They can also exit through Chapel St. near St. John Paul II Parish and turn left to C-5 during weekdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Tagalog 3rd most widely spoken foreign language in US homes—study By Matikas Santos |INQUIRER.net2:10 pm | Tuesday, October 7th, 2014


This table, published by the US Center of Immigration Studies, shows that Tagalog, or Filipino, is the third most widely spoken foreign language in homes in the US. Photo from the Center for Immigration Studies.


MANILA, Philippines – A study in the US has found that Tagalog is the third most widely spoken foreign language in households, following Spanish and Chinese.

The 2013 American Community Survey (ACS) conducted by the US Census Bureau found that there were approximately 1.6 million speakers of Filipino, putting it third behind Spanish (38.4 million) and Chinese (3 million).

The other languages after Tagalog were Vietnamese (1.4 million), French (1.3 million), and Korean and Arabic (1.1 million each).

The study defined Tagalog as “the national language of the Philippines.”

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) noted that the number of people speaking a foreign language in their home has reached an all-time high of 61.8 million, higher by 2.2 million since 2010.

“The largest increases from 2010 to 2013 were for speakers of Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic. One in five U.S. residents now speaks a foreign language at home,” Steven Camarota, Director of Research and Karen Zeigler, demographer, of CIS, said in their article here published on October 2014.

* CIS also noted that the highest percentage of foreign-language speakers are in California with 45 percent, followed by New Mexico with 36 percent and Texas with 35 percent.

In the states of New Jersey, Nevada, and New York, 30 percent of the population spoke a foreign language followed by Florida and Arizona who had 27 percent.

According to December 2012 figures of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), there are nearly 3.5 million Filipinos in the US.

Majority of them, around 3.1 million are permanent residents while those with temporary work contracts number around 126,000 and those with irregular or undocumented status are 271,000.

The US is the foreign country with the most number of Filipinos followed by Saudi Arabia with 1.2 million Filipinos and Canada with 852,000.

Related news from SF April 1, 2014

San Francisco certifies Tagalog as 3rd required language in city affairs INQUIRER.net US Bureau12:01 am | Friday, April 4th, 2014

• Requirement ensures language access to services
• City has more than 10,000 Tagalog-speaking, limited English speaking residents
• Language ordinance one of the most comprehensive language law in US


San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee

SAN FRANCISCO, California – Filipino (Tagalog), the most commonly spoken Filipino language in the Bay Area and the official language of the Philippines, is now a third required language, in addition to Chinese and Spanish, city officials announced April 2 at the Bayanihan Community Center.

Mayor Edwin M. Lee with Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, Supervisors John Avalos and Jane Kim and local community partners today announced the certification of Tagalog as covered under the City’s Language Access Ordinance.

San Francisco’s Language Access Ordinance was established in 2001 and is one of the most comprehensive local language laws in the nation.

The ordinance requires city departments that interact with the public to provide translated materials, interpreters at public meetings and other services.

Several City Departments already provide services in Tagalog and an array of other languages to meet state and federal requirements, but the City’s ordinance requires much more rigorous study and provision of multilingual services.

More than 112 different languages are spoken in the San Francisco Bay Area and 45 percent of all San Francisco residents do not speak English at home.

“San Francisco is a model for the nation in welcoming immigrants and empowering communities, and we are committed to doing even better on behalf of our immigrant populations,” said Lee.

“With today’s action, we are ensuring that the more than 10,000 Tagalog-speaking city residents who are limited English speakers have access to the same information and programs as every other San Franciscans, so that they too can share in the success of our city.”

“The Filipino community in San Francisco is an important partner who has helped make our city successful,” said Board President Chiu, author of major amendments to the Language Access Ordinance made in 2009.

“This certification is an affirmation of the hard work and contributions of all our language communities and another proud moment for the San Francisco family,” Chiu added.

* In certifying Filipino (Tagalog) as a third language, the City’s Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA) made the determination that there are more than 10,000 Tagalog speakers in San Francisco who are limited-English proficient and thus, meet thresholds outlined in the law.

As part of its ongoing work to engage and ensure full civic participation, the city is conducting a baseline study of Tagalog speakers in San Francisco to assist departments better understand the specific needs of the community in order to serve more residents.

“This is a great achievement in language access,” said Grace Lee, Policy Director for Chinese for Affirmative Action and Coordinator of the San Francisco Language Access Network, a coalition of nonprofit providers serving immigrant and monolingual communities.

“We are proud to continue the work started five years ago with our community partners, OCEIA, the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors,” she added.

Implementation of the new requirements will be phased in by OCEIA over the next 18-months starting July 1, 2014, with input from the Language Access Network and other community and city partners.

“Mabuhay! At the Filipino Community Center and throughout the City, we are so proud that Filipino will become the third certified language in San Francisco, together with Chinese and Spanish,” said Filipino Community Center Organizational Director Terrence Valen.

“Filipino residents feel that being able to communicate in their native tongue opens up the whole world to them and their families, from accessing basic services to contributing to their communities and the diversity of San Francisco. It is a long-overdue recognition of the near century-long presence and continuing concentration of Filipinos in San Francisco.”

The Language Access Ordinance ensures that the city communicates well with residents as part of its daily business and especially during crises, emergency and public safety situations.

For more information on the San Francisco Language Access Ordinance and the Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs, go to: www.sfgov.org/OCEIA.

PHILSTAR OPINION

ISIS in the Philippines By Tony Lopez | Oct. 10, 2014 at 12:01am 8

Visiting Europe on Sept. 18, 2014, President Benigno S. Aquino III was asked during an open forum with European investors whether the radical jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has spread to the Philippines.

The chief executive gave a safe answer. He said:

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front “have said they themselves are resisting IS encroachment into the Bangsamoro. They have not pledged allegiance to the so called caliphate.”

“What we have in the Philippines currently are people who used to say they were affiliates of Al Qaeda. Now that IS seems to be on the ascendancy, they are now saying they are affiliates of IS. And if tomorrow a new group comes about, I assume they will join that group or they will be the ones forming that new group to take over,” the President added.

The MILF, Aquino explained, will police the Bangsamoro region. “They know the players in that particular region. They stay there. They are empowered to resolve longstanding conflicts.”

As to reports by neighboring countries that some of their citizens have gone to the conflict areas like Iraq or Syria, mostly by way of Turkey, the President said, “we have had no hard evidence Filipinos are already engaged (with the IS).”

Aquino, however, acknowledged there is a significant Filipino population, 1.2 million people, in just two countries alone, in the Middle East, who might be recruited and brainwashed by IS organizers.

Still, he said, there had been no cases of Filipino suicide bombers. And “when there is a conflict, it usually devolves into a personal level, rather than ideology or religious extremism.”

From the President’s answers, one can conclude IS has not spread to the southern Philippines. And if it has, there is little to worry about. The MILF will take care of it. In any case, Aquino conceded, “this threat is a threat we all have to face.”

The United States has vowed to “degrade and ultimately destroy” Islamic State militants who holed up of a swath of land from Syria across the border and deep into western and northern Iraq.

The air strikes within Iraq, according to President Obama, “have protected American personnel and facilities, killed [Islamic State] fighters, destroyed weapons, and given space for Iraqi and Kurdish forces to reclaim key territory. These strikes have also helped save the lives of thousands of innocent men, women and children.”

In June, ISIS took control of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and declared a caliphate.

* ISIS began as a small motley group organized as Sunni resistance to America’s 2003 invasion of Iraq. After setbacks, it became a force to reckon with when civil war in Syria erupted in 2011. By last year, it had occupied eastern Syria under the name ISIS. This year, ISIS changed its name to the State of Islamic Caliphate (SIC), betraying its plan to rule the Muslim world. So now, IS, ISIS and Caliphate are interchangeable.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel calls ISIS “an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else.” ISIS, says Gen. John Allen, a former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, represents “a clear and present danger”, one that affects “the region and potentially the world as we know it.”

The chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, thinks ISIS has “an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision.”

A Washington Post-ABC News poll showed, 90 percent of Americans believe IS a serious threat to vital American interests.

It is easy to assume ISIS now operates in the Philippines. Muslims in the country have demonstrated the kind of rebellion and militancy that make them susceptible to the extreme fundamentalism, terrorism and violence that ISIS espouses.

Terrorism specialist and scholar Prof. Rommel Banlaoi has compiled videos of Philippine groups displaying the black flag of the ISIS in Mindanao. He says possible members of ISIS now are members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a spinoff of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front; and the Khilafa Islamiya in Mindanao.

As early as 2010, these groups were already displaying the ISIS black flag in Mindanao. In 2012, a Filipino jihadist displayed an ISIS black flag on video. He has links to al Zharkawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, and al-Qaeda in Iraq is the forerunner of ISIS. On Feb. 1, 2014, the Philippine military discovered a black flag in a BIFF camp in Maguindanao after a week-long offensive.

“If there are ISIS members in Mindanao, for me, they would be the members of the umbrella organization called Khilafa Islamiya in Mindanao (KIM),” says Banlaoi. The name alone speaks for itself, Khilafa Islamiya means Islamic caliphate.

Banlaoi says the vanguard of the Islamic caliphate movement in Mindanao would be the Khilafa Islamiya Mindanao (KIM). “If you are looking for ISIS members or candidates or sympathizers, the common candidates would be members and sympathizers of KIM.”

On YouTube in August, the terrorist Abu Sayyaf and the BIFF were shown pledging support for the Middle East rebels. The BIFF claim to have an alliance with ISIS and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Banlaoi categorizes possible ISIS members in the Philippines into three—formal members with direct link and communication with ISIS, individuals and groups inspired by ISIS who may now carry out violent actions on their on or in the name of ISIS, and bandwagoners or free-riders on the popularity of ISIS to justify their violent acts.

Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Office of Strategic Studies, says the rise of ISIS on the global stage has strategic consequences on the local, regional and global security environment. Locally, these are what the Armed Forces of the Philippines calls “peace spoilers”.

Kakilala says the Abu Sayyaf, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and KIM “may be further radicalized and may mutate into larger, more sophisticated and more lethal terrorist organizations.”

Such radicalism “may further complicate the concerted efforts of the Philippine government to forge lasting peace in Mindanao through the peace accords with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front.

Reports say 200 Filipinos are said to have left the country and joined the self-proclaimed Sunni Muslim “caliphate”.

Former President Fidel Ramos has said “at least 100 of our young Filipino Muslims have already infiltrated Iraq to undergo training to return and be jihadists or militants.”


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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