PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK

POPE FACES MORE TERROR RISK IN THE VISAYAS 

NOV 22 --Terrorist Target: --PHOTO: Pope Francis delivers a speech during a recent general audience at Saint Peter’s square at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO --Pontiff seen as most vulnerable during Leyte visit Pope Francis will be “most vulnerable,” security-wise, during the Visayas leg of his trip in January, a top government investigator said on Friday. Government forces must double their efforts to protect the pope when he sets foot in Leyte, the official, who spoke on condition that he would not be named for lack of authority to speak on the matter, told The Manila Times. The pontiff will visit Tacloban City and Palo, both in Leyte, on January 17 where he is scheduled to dine with Super Typhoon Yolanda victims. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Govt to keep papal visit simple – Palace exec 

NOV 21 --The Philippine government will heed Pope Francis' request to keep his visit to the country as simple as possible, a Malacañang official said Friday. At a press briefing, deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte said the budget for the papal visit in January will be only "for what is necessary." "Certainly, we're taking that into consideration. We understand and we are very well aware of the stand of His Holiness when it comes to simplicity," Valte told reporters on Friday afternoon. Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church and the head of state of Vatican City, is scheduled to visit the Philippines from January 15 to 19 next year. On Thursday, the Vatican wants the Philippine government to keep expenditures for Pope Francis' visit at a minimum, Fr. Anton Pascual of the papal visit organizing committee said. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO FROM THE MANILA TIMES: REMEMBERING THE AMPATUAN MASSACRE 

NOV 21 ---FROM ABC NEWS/PHOTO: Men hold a sign about remembering victims of the Ampatuan massacre Posted about 7 hours agoFri 21 Nov 2014, 6:47am Men hold a sign calling for justice over the 2009 killing of 32 journalists and 26 others in Ampatuan in the Philippines on November 21, 2014. ABC News: Philippa McDonald ---MANILA TIMES: “His government is shameless. He is impunity personified. His name is Noynoy ‘Impunity’ Aquino,” Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general said on the eve of the International Day to End Impunity, November 23, which is also the anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre. “There is madness going on right before our eyes with witnesses and potential witnesses being killed one by one. The Ampatuans may be in jail but their power has not diminished. They are still able to silence witnesses.  READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: ‘Wheels of justice moving in massacre case’

NOV 22 --The prosecution of the Maguindanao massacre case remains on track despite delays in the resolution of the case. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima gave this assurance yesterday as she addressed criticisms from various sectors on the slow pace of the trial before the Quezon City regional trial court. “We should understand that the wheels of justice are moving in this case. The judge is trying her best. So are the public prosecutors handling the case,” she told reporters. De Lima lamented that critics, particularly foreign journalists who recently visited the country, should have a better understanding of the legal processes before they judge the government in the handling of the case. She pointed out that the multiple murder case being heard by Quezon City RTC Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes involves 58 victims, 197 accused, 147 prosecution witnesses and 300 defense witnesses. READ FULL REPORT..

ALSO Study: Terrorism-related deaths in PH more than doubled in 2013

NOV 22 --Nearly 300 people died due to terrorist activities in 2013, making it one of the countries worst affected by terrorism, a think tank said in a report. Out of 162 countries, the Philippines ranked 9th in the Institute for Economics and Peace’s Global Terrorism Index for 2013. The report said that that there were 292 recorded deaths and 444 injuries of the 499 incidents in the Philippines in the past year. The number of fatalities more than doubled from the 122 recorded in 2012. The study said The number of terrorist cases in 2012 also grew by almost twice as much in 2013. Most of the seven known groups that carried out a terrorist attack in the past year was made by the New People’s Army of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf Group. However, 30 percent of the deaths from terrorism in 2013 was carried out by the NPA. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Peaceful progress still elusive in PH – study

Despite strong economic growth, corruption and patronage politics are holding back the Philippines from achieving peaceful progress, the 2014 Global Peace Index (GPI) study by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) found. “While in many ways exhibiting strong democratic credentials, the Philippines ranks just 134th out of 162 countries in the GPI,” the study said. The Philippines rank dropped five places since the 2013 GPI. “Corruption, poverty and the patron-client nature of relations in the Philippines means that problems exist across all levels of society—not just in areas under conflict—with high levels of violent crime and kidnapping,” it said. The IEP defines “peace” as “the absence of violence and fear of violence” and measures 162 countries in the study. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO TIMES EDITORIAL: Don’t forget the Ampatuan Massacre

ALTHOUGH the November 23, 2009 massacre in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao, happened about seven months before President B. S. Aquino 3rd assumed power, we cannot but—to a great extent—agree with the Human Rights civil society organization Karapatan’s secretry-general when she angrily denounces him because “his government is shameless. He is impunity personified. His name is Noynoy ‘Impunity’ Aquino. Those are the words of Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary-general. She will say these words today, the eve of the International Day to End Impunity, which is on November 23. That is a dark day in the history of humanity. It is also the anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre. READ FULL REPORT...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Pope faces more risk in Visayas’


Terrorist Target Pope Francis delivers a speech during a recent general audience at Saint Peter’s square at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO

MANILA, NOVEMBER 24, 2014 (MANILA TIMES) by JOEL M. SY EGCO, Senior Reporter - Pontiff seen as most vulnerable during Leyte visit

Pope Francis will be “most vulnerable,” security-wise, during the Visayas leg of his trip in January, a top government investigator said on Friday.

Government forces must double their efforts to protect the pope when he sets foot in Leyte, the official, who spoke on condition that he would not be named for lack of authority to speak on the matter, told The Manila Times.

The pontiff will visit Tacloban City and Palo, both in Leyte, on January 17 where he is scheduled to dine with Super Typhoon Yolanda victims.

Francis will be in the country from January 15 to 19. He will celebrate several Masses in Manila and Leyte.

The official said security will be a key issue because the pope refuses to ride a Popemobile, a bulletproof vehicle first introduced after an attempt on the life of the Pope John Paul 2nd.

“He is most vulnerable there [Visayas]. It is going to be a security nightmare,” said the source, who was involved in the investigation of the attempt to kill Pope John Paul 2nd when he visited Manila in 1995.

The official, who is still active in the service, was involved in preparing the report on Oplan Bojinka, an ambitious operation by al-Qaeda operatives Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed involving a plot to assassinate the pope, planting bombs on 11 airliners flying from Asia to the United States and crashing a plane into the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Virginia.

The plot unraveled after a fire gutted an apartment building in Manila on January 6, 1995, where Yousef and his associates were preparing bombs and other explosive devices.

Before the plot was disrupted, Yousef had detonated test bombs in a mall and theater, injuring scores of people, as well as on Philippine Airlines Flight 434, killing one person and blowing a hole in the plane’s fuselage. Despite the damage, the aircraft landed safely in Cebu City.

The Times source on Thursday warned that reports on the possible terrorist attack on Pope Francis should not be taken lightly.

“My gut feel, and I have always trusted my instincts in matters such as this, is that they [terrorists] might try it again.

Therefore, nobody should take this [threat] lightly and be complacent. We don’t want to be blamed if anything wrong happens,” the source said.

“They tried it before. They might give it another shot,” he added.

The officer claimed that many areas in the Visayas are known bailiwicks of other armed groups identified with local communists.

The warning came as the Philippines placed ninth among countries affected by terrorism as reported in the Global Peace Index 2014.

The country got the worst rank among its Asian neighbors such as Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Singapore, Laos and Timor Leste.

The country’s ranking dropped by a notch over an increase in the number of incidents involving local armed militants.

The US government has issued a travel advisory for its citizens traveling to Mindanao, where armed groups such as the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and new groups that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) operate.

In Malacanang also on Friday, deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said they would like to see more details of the Global Peace Index report to determine which areas they should improve.

“We are trying to see what incidents have been counted because we saw the difference from the incidents in 2011, 2012, 2013 and the most recent year. We’d like to see what those incidents are and compare it with the data that our law enforcement agencies have. But certainly, I think everyone is unified in the goal that we want to lessen these incidents,” Valte told reporters.

She said President Benigno Aquino 3rd himself is particularly concerned about the ISIS.

“You’ve seen also the President talked about ISIS in the past few days. We have been coordinating and cooperating with our neighbors just to make sure that the Philippines will remain free from any ISIS recruitment and we’ve said this in the past couple of days. In fact, yesterday [Wednesday], we were asked about some information that a Filipino was involved in the beheading of some Syrians in the most recent ISIS video,” Valte added.

“The military is endeavoring to check the veracity of that particular video. But, so far, we still do not have any confirmation of the nationality of that person,” she pointed out.

Valte said the government is also making “significant security preparations” for the coming year.

“As you know, the country is hosting an APEC [Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation] meeting. We have the pope coming over to visit in January. We also have some other events that we have lined up for 2015 and as such, we have taken the necessary, we are taking the necessary security precautions,” she added.


FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

Govt to keep papal visit simple – Palace exec November 21, 2014 1:43pm 0 0 0 New

The Philippine government will heed Pope Francis' request to keep his visit to the country as simple as possible, a Malacañang official said Friday.

At a press briefing, deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte said the budget for the papal visit in January will be only "for what is necessary."

"Certainly, we're taking that into consideration. We understand and we are very well aware of the stand of His Holiness when it comes to simplicity," Valte told reporters on Friday afternoon.

Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church and the head of state of Vatican City, is scheduled to visit the Philippines from January 15 to 19 next year.

On Thursday, the Vatican wants the Philippine government to keep expenditures for Pope Francis' visit at a minimum, Fr. Anton Pascual of the papal visit organizing committee said.

Pope Francis also called on the Philippine government to create savings to rebuild areas hit by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), instead of spending much for his visit.

Although she gave assurance that the papal visit will be modest, Valte said the government will still make sure that Pope Francis will be completely secure during his visit in Manila and Yolanda-hit areas.

"Of course, we will take the necessary precautions, primarily because of the security concerns," the Palace official said.

Last July, President Benigno Aquino III asked the entire government to ensure the success of the papal visit. He also formed a national panel to lead preparations for Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines.

The Philippines is the largest Roman Catholic nation in Asia. More than 80 percent of the over 100 million Filipinos are Roman Catholics. — Andreo Calonzo/RSJ, GMA News


FROM THE MANILA TIMES

REMEMBERING THE AMPATUAN MASSACRE November 21, 2014 10:52 pm
 

Impunity is BS Aquino–Karapatan and an NUJP letter to Pope Francis


Men hold a sign about remembering victims of the Ampatuan massacre Posted about 7 hours agoFri 21 Nov 2014, 6:47am Men hold a sign calling for justice over the 2009 killing of 32 journalists and 26 others in Ampatuan in the Philippines on November 21, 2014. FROM ABC News: Philippa McDonald

MANILA TIMES---“His government is shameless. He is impunity personified. His name is Noynoy ‘Impunity’ Aquino,” Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general said on the eve of the International Day to End Impunity, November 23, which is also the anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre.

“There is madness going on right before our eyes with witnesses and potential witnesses being killed one by one. The Ampatuans may be in jail but their power has not diminished. They are still able to silence witnesses. But what is BS Aquino government doing?” Palabay asked.

On November 19, the former driver of Ampatuan Sr., Dennis Sakal was killed while Butch Saudagal, known as Ampatuan Jr.’s bagman, was wounded. Both were shot while riding a motorcycle to Sharrif Aguak.

“The BS Aquino government coddles the Ampatuans in the same way that it coddles and protects the notorious general Jovito Palparan who is housed at the Philippine Army camp,” Palabay said.

Five years ago, the whole world was stunned with the massacre of 58 persons. Five years have passed and [there is] still no sign of conviction for the murderers,” Palabay said.

Karapatan twits Coloma: BS Aquino’s rights record speaks for itself

In response to Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.’s statement on “baseless” claims of rights abuses under Aquino, Palabay said that “Malacañang keeps denying what is obvious and blatantly happening, such as killings and other human rights violations, in the same manner that it denies its criminal neglect of Typhoon Yolanda victims.”

Karapatan enumerated several unsolved cases such as the killing of Fr. Fausto Tentorio, Datu Jimmy Liguyon, town councillor Fernando Baldomero, the massacre of botanist Prof. Leonard Co, Sofronio Cortez and Julius Boromeo and anti-mining activist Juvy Capion and her two sons.

“While there are is not even a hint that justice will be served on the victims of these killings, the BS Aquino government, through the Armed Forces of the Philippines, has not stopped its killing spree. Their pronouncements invoking adherence to international human rights standards are all for show. Even the United Nations human rights experts and international monitors have seen through their lies,” said Palabay.

The human rights group has documented 222 victims of extrajudicial killing, 221 frustrated killings, 104 victims of torture and more than 40,000 who forcibly evacuated due to military operations.

Palabay cited the continuing massive deployment of AFP troops in the Caraga region where at least four battalions are currently conducting military operations.

Since November 1, there have been two missing farmer-small scale miners in the Bayugan, Agusan del Sur who have yet to be found—Philims and Philip Poloyapoy.

Their brother, Filjohn, was found dead on November 3. The three were arrested by elements of the 75th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) conducting combat operations on November 1 at Purok 13,Bagong Silang, Barangay Bayugan 3, Rosario, Agusan del Sur.

The Poloyapoy brothers first encountered the military on October 31 on the way to the gold-panning site. They came from their farm. Filjohn was walking ahead of Philip and Philims. They had with them a “jolen gun” (a homemade gun made of PVC pipe that uses marbles for bullets and alcohol as fuel). The brothers use the gun to hunt birds and to drive away boars that destroy their crops.

Unknown to Philip and Philims, who were behind Filjohn, there were already soldiers ahead of them. The two were after the birds they saw and fired their “jolen gun.” The soldiers, who were now with Filjohn, were alarmed and fired at Philip and Philims. Fortunately, they were not hit. The soldiers left after they scolded and warned the brothers. The three were last seen on November 1. They told their mother they would be going to their farm huts.

“Nakakasuklam na ito. The Aquino government can afford to drag its heels on the Ampatuan massacre and go easy with the Ampatuans even as the world watches. We can just imagine what happens to the case of the Poloyapoys and many other lesser-known individuals from the villages who become victims of the government’s fascist attacks. The world does not know them. The only way for us to end impunity is to also end the reign of the impunity king, BS Aquino,” Palabay concluded.

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.

* * *
Liham para kay Pope Francis – mula sa kamaganak ng mga biktima ng Ampatuan Massacre
[Letter for Pope Francis--from the relatives of the victims of the Ampatuan Massacre]

THIS letter comes to us the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.

It was read by Grace Morales yesterday, November 21, at the Ampatuan Massacre site where more than 70 journalists and kin of the Ampatuan massacre victims commemorates the 5th year of the massacre.

Grace is the widow of Rosell Morales and the sister of Marites Cablitas, circulation manager and publisher of News Focus at the time of the incident.

Liham para kay Pope Francis

Kami ay mga asawa, anak, magulang at kapatid ng mga pinaslang sa bayan ng Ampatuan, Maguindanao noong ika -23 ng Nobyembre 2009.

Ang aming mga mahal sa buhay ay kasama sa masaker kung saan 58 ang nasawi kabilang ang 32 mamahayag.

Taun-taon ay bumabalik kami rito sa lugar na ito kung saan ang dugo nila ay kumalat nang pagbabarilin sila sa utos ng mga Ampatuan. Ngunit hindi lamang sila pinagbabaril. Ibinaon ang mahigit kalahati sa kanila kasama ang mga sasakyan sa pamamagitan ng backhoe na ginamit sa paggawa ng hukay at pagpitpit sa mga sasakyan upang mas madaling mapagkasya ang mga ito at ang mga bangkay sa hukay.

Limang taon na ang nakaraan mula nang maganap ito.

Limang taon na mula nang ang mga anak namin ay nawalan ng mga tatay o nanay na dapat ay gumagabay sa kanilang paglaki.

Limang taon na mula nang ang mga asawa sa amin ay nawalan ng katuwang sa pagtataguyod ng aming tahanan.

Limang taon na nang mawalan kami ng mga kapatid na naging kalaro sa paglaki at ngayo’y puntod na lamang na dinadalaw sa sementeryo.

Hindi po perpekto ang aming mga kamag-anak. Nakakagawa rin po sila ng mga kasalanan noong sila’y nabubuhay at nakakalimot paminsan-minsan sa mga banal na utos ng Panginoon. Subalit ang patayin sila ng ganun na lamang at ibaon ng parang mga hayop ay hindi katanggap-tanggap.

Dito sa lugar na ito kung saan umalingawngaw ang putok mula sa mga baril na kumitil sa kanilang buhay. . .Dito sa lugar na ito kung saan nagsumamo silang huwag patayin…

Dito sa lugar na ito kung saan nawala ang pag-asa ng 58 pamilya…

Nagsusumamo kami sa iyo, mahal na Santo Papa, na tulungan kaming mabigyan ng hustisya.

Alam po naming hindi na maibabalik ang buhay ng aming mga mahal sa buhay.

Subalit naniniwala kaming ang Diyos ay isang Diyos na may pagmamahal sa katulad naming maliliit at walang kakayahang ipagtanggol ang sarili.

Bigyan nyo po kami ng lakas ng loob upang ipagpatuloy ang paghahanap ng katarungan.

Bigyan nyo po kami ng sapat na lakas para maitawid ang pang-araw araw na pangangailangan ng aming pamilya.

Bigyan nyo po kami ng linaw ng isip para magawa ang mga tamang desisyon. Kami’y mga simpleng tao, wala sa kapangyarihan at walang kayamanan.

Subalit sa inyong tulong, dasal at pagpapala, umaasa kaming magkakaroon ng lakas para ipaglaban ang katarungan.

Tinitingnan namin ang inyong darating na pagdalaw sa Enero bilang isang simbolo ng pagmamahal ng Diyos sa mga katulad naming naghahanap ng hustisya.

Kaya dito sa lugar na ito, limang taon makaraan ang masaker, hinihiling namin na kami’y iyong ipagdasal at sa kahit anong paraang maari, bilang pinakamataas na pinuno ng Simbahang Katoliko, ay samahan kami sa paglalakbay tungo sa katarungan.

Gumagalang,
Mga asawa, anak, kapatid at magulang ng mga pinaslang na media sa Sitio Masalay, Bgy. Salman, Ampatuan, Maguindanao


FROM PHILSTAR

‘Wheels of justice moving in massacre case’ By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 22, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The prosecution of the Maguindanao massacre case remains on track despite delays in the resolution of the case.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima gave this assurance yesterday as she addressed criticisms from various sectors on the slow pace of the trial before the Quezon City regional trial court.

“We should understand that the wheels of justice are moving in this case. The judge is trying her best. So are the public prosecutors handling the case,” she told reporters.

De Lima lamented that critics, particularly foreign journalists who recently visited the country, should have a better understanding of the legal processes before they judge the government in the handling of the case.

She pointed out that the multiple murder case being heard by Quezon City RTC Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes involves 58 victims, 197 accused, 147 prosecution witnesses and 300 defense witnesses.

“If they (critics) only knew what it’s like to handle this case given the number of witnesses presented, they would understand why this is a difficult case,” she said.

“We don’t blame them for espousing that thought that the case is moving slowly. But we are repeatedly assuring that on the part of the prosecution, we are not falling short in our duty,” she added.

De Lima plans to fly to Maguindanao tomorrow, the fifth anniversary of the massacre.

“I look forward to having a dialogue with the families of the victims and touch base with some witnesses,” she said.

De Lima earlier said the government was targeting to secure the conviction of the principal accused before the end of President Aquino’s term in 2016.

Two of the 197 accused, Hernanie Decipulo and Sukarno Badal, died while in detention while another accused, Johan Drapper, was dropped from the charges.

A new witness, Dennis Sakal who was said to be a former driver of the principal accused Andal Ampatuan Jr., was killed in Shariff Aguak on Tuesday.

‘Slain witness won’t testify vs Andal’

Sakal received a death threat for refusing to testify against Andal Jr., a police blotter sent to The STAR showed.

The police blotter was sent by lawyer Salvador Panelo, the defense counsel of Andal Jr.

Panelo said the police blotter would prove his claim that Sakal was set to testify for the defense and not for the prosecution.

Private prosecutor Nena Santos has repeatedly stated that Sakal has defected from the Ampatuan clan and will testify for the prosecution.

But based on the extract blotter, which was taken at the Datu Unsay municipal police station on Oct. 23, Sakal requested the police to put on record the threat that he received from a local official after he refused to testify against Ampatuan.

In the blotter, Sakal supposedly told the police that he was being asked by former Datu Salibo mayor Akmad Baganian Ampatuan, a relative of the Ampatuans, to testify against Andal Jr.

Also named in the blotter were Shariff Aguak acting Mayor Maroup Ampatuan and a certain Abby Baganian Aguak Ampatuan.

The acting mayor recently took over the top post of Shariff Aguak after the mayor, Zahara Ampatuan, abandoned her post in September over murder charges for the death of a secretary of the municipal council.

The missing mayor is the wife of Anwar Ampatuan Sr., brother of Andal Jr., who is also charged for the Maguindanao massacre.

Based on the blotter, the slain potential witness allegedly claimed that he was offered a motorcycle, a house and P100,000 in exchange for testifying against Andal Jr.

He was supposedly also asked to testify in “fabricated cases” that would be filed against other political allies of the Ampatuans.

Named among those allegedly forcing Sakal to turn against the Ampatuans was Butch Saudagal, a confirmed prosecution witness who was injured during the ambush on Tuesday.

Based on the blotter, Sakal allegedly said in Filipino: “I answered, my conscience is clear, I cannot adhere to your request because Datu Andal Jr. did not commit any crime and the allegations against him are not true.”

Because of his response, Sakal said Akmad Baganian threatened to kill him and his family.

Written in Filipino, the blotter was certified correct by Datu Unsay municipal police station officer-in-charge Inspector Dan Junson Vargas-Espinosa.

A police officer who responded to The STAR’s phone inquiry verified the existence of the blotter. He also confirmed that Panelo requested for a copy of the blotter.

According to Santos, lawyer of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, Sakal voluntarily offered his testimony for the prosecution.

She said he was one of the witnesses who were set to meet Secretary De Lima.

Unlike Panelo who was to meet Sakal, Santos said she already met and personally vetted the slain potential witness.

“How can he be pressured?” Santos said. “Why will we do that when they (Sakal and Saudagal) have been vetted twice together, with Saudagal having executed his judicial affidavit before the prosecutor and Sakal was scheduled to see me that day for his final vetting and signature of his affidavit.”

Santos declined the request for a copy of the unsigned copy of Sakal’s supposed affidavit.

But during a press conference with relatives of some of the victims on Thursday, private prosecutor Harry Roque admitted that the slain witness was a witness for the defense and not for the prosecution.

Roque also intimated the rift among prosecutors handling the case, saying it is between the private lawyers Santos and Prima Quinsayas and the rest of the panel. With Janvic Mateo


FROM THE INQUIRER

Study: Terrorism-related deaths in PH more than doubled in 2013 Frances Mangosing @FMangosingINQ INQUIRER.net 4:01 PM | Friday, November 21st, 2014


Screengrab from http://www.visionofhumanity.org

●While the use of bombs and other explosives are more common in other countries, terrorist activities in the Philippines involve armed assaults and assassinations.

●Cotabato City in Mindanao recorded the most number of terrorist activities.

●The study said that military force eliminated only 7 percent of terrorist cases.

MANILA, Philippines – Nearly 300 people died due to terrorist activities in 2013, making it one of the countries worst affected by terrorism, a think tank said in a report.

Out of 162 countries, the Philippines ranked 9th in the Institute for Economics and Peace’s Global Terrorism Index for 2013. The report said that that there were 292 recorded deaths and 444 injuries of the 499 incidents in the Philippines in the past year. The number of fatalities more than doubled from the 122 recorded in 2012. The study said The number of terrorist cases in 2012 also grew by almost twice as much in 2013.

Most of the seven known groups that carried out a terrorist attack in the past year was made by the New People’s Army of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf Group. However, 30 percent of the deaths from terrorism in 2013 was carried out by the NPA.

“Terrorism in the Philippines is intrinsically tied with nationalist and separatist claims by people living in provinces in southern Philippines,” the report said.

“Armed assault represented nearly half of all fatalities, followed by assassinations, which constituted a quarter of all fatalities. This differs from many other parts of the world where use of explosives and bombings are more common,” the report said.

“The use of these tactics and targets demonstrates that many of the terrorist groups in the Philippines are seeking to directly change the political system,” it also said.

The research also noted that 56 percent of attempts of assassinations were successful in the Philippines. There were 103 people killed by assassinations in 2013, or five times higher than in 2012.

Only the Abu Sayyaf is involved in suicide bombing.

The research also said that 34 percent of deaths from terrorist attacks were targeting the government, business leaders, private citizens and police representing between 10 and 17 percent of deaths.

The city with the highest number of terrorist attacks was Cotabato City in Central Mindanao with 11 separate attacks that killed 11 people. Most of the attacks are blamed to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the breakaway group of the MILF. The Philippine government is currently working on a peace pact with the MILF, to which the BIFF had been resisting.

Eighty-three percent of the 81 provinces in the Philippines had at least one terrorist attack in the past year.

Deaths worldwide up by 60 percent

The rest of the countries in the top 10 with most terrorist activities were Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Syria, India, Somalia, Yemen and Thailand.

Deaths from terrorist activity worldwide increased to 61 percent in 2013. There were 17,958 deaths in 2013 from 11,133 in 2012.

“Over the same period, the number of countries that experienced more than 50 deaths rose from 15 to 24. This highlights that not only is the intensity of terrorism increasing, its breadth is increasing as well,” the report said.

However, 80 percent of the deaths lost to terrorist activities in 2013 happened only in five countries — Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria. Fifty-five other countries recorded one or more deaths from terrorist activity.

Iraq topped the list, with 35 percent of all deaths from terrorism globally.

The study also said that majority of the deaths from terrorist attacks, 66 percent are claimed by four terrorist organizations: Islamic State, Boko Haram, the Taliban and al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

But the research also noted that approximately 50 percent of terrorist attacks claim no lives.

The worst terror attack in 2013 was in Nigeria in September. There were 142 deaths after the members of Boko Haram dressed in military uniforms set up illegal checkpoints and shot civilians.

Being poor not the main reason why people turn into terrorism

Poverty has little thing to do with terrorism, the report said.

“Importantly, poverty and many other economic factors have little explanatory power on the onset of terrorism. This includes several broader development factors such as mean years of schooling and life expectancy. This underpins the fact that weak political systems, a lack of political legitimacy and the presence of state-sponsored violence are more influential for explaining the rise of terrorist organisations than the broader economic environment,” it said.

Military force could also not be used to solve terrorism as only 7 percent were only eliminated by such.

“The two most successful strategies for ending terrorist groups since the late 1960s have been either policing or the initiation of a political process. These strategies were the main reason for the ending of over 80 per cent of terrorist organizations that ceased operation. Only ten per cent of terrorist groups could be said to have achieved their goals and only seven per cent were eliminated by full military engagement,” the report said.


EARLY REPORT FROM THE INQUIRER

Peaceful progress still elusive in PH – study Matikas Santos @MSantosINQ INQUIRER.net 4:28 PM | Wednesday, August 27th, 2014


SCREENGRAB from www.visionofhumanity.org

MANILA, Philippines—Despite strong economic growth, corruption and patronage politics are holding back the Philippines from achieving peaceful progress, the 2014 Global Peace Index (GPI) study by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) found.

“While in many ways exhibiting strong democratic credentials, the Philippines ranks just 134th out of 162 countries in the GPI,” the study said.

The Philippines rank dropped five places since the 2013 GPI.

“Corruption, poverty and the patron-client nature of relations in the Philippines means that problems exist across all levels of society—not just in areas under conflict—with high levels of violent crime and kidnapping,” it said.

The IEP defines “peace” as “the absence of violence and fear of violence” and measures 162 countries in the study.

“The GPI is a composite index that measures peace based on 22 qualitative and quantitative indicators, ranging from a nation’s level of military expenditure to its relations with neighboring countries and the percentage of prison population,” IEP said in its website describing the methodology of the study.

Among the 10 member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), Philippines is the second lowest in the GPI ranking just above Myanmar which is rank at 136th.

Thailand ranks 126th, Cambodia 106th, Indonesia 54th, Vietnam 45th, Laos 38th, Malaysia 33rd, and Singapore 25th. No data was available for Brunei.

An interactive map showing the rank of countries all over the world can be found in the following link: http://www.visionofhumanity.org/#page/indexes/global-peace-index/2014

The IEP, an international non-profit think tank with headquarters in Australia, cited corruption and patronage politics as the root cause of the decades-long conflict and violence in Mindanao.

“Corruption in the Philippines is widespread—the country scores 36 out of 100 on Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index—and there is a widely held belief that graft among the elite is the reason why poverty rates and income inequality have remained very high by regional standards, despite strong economic performance in the past decade,” the study said.

“The patron-client nature of underlying relations also plays a role. These relationships can distort the allocation of resources away from the areas where they are most needed, or could be used most effectively,” it said.

Wealthy political families fight over each other in their desire to retain power and influence that they get through patronage politics. IEP cited the case of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre which was the result of the rivalry between the Ampatuan and Mangudadatu clans.

“This is also reflected in the Democracy Index, where the Philippines only scores 3.13 out of 10 for political culture” the study said.

Corruption has also led to the ineffective functioning of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and kept the region from progress despite substantial fund allocations.

The controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), also known as Pork Barrel, was among the “barriers to peace” cited by the study calling it an “important” but “insufficient” step forward.

“The abolition in 2013 of the so-called pork-barrel system was an important, albeit insufficient, step towards ensuring that the allocation of public funds is rationalized and politics becomes less personalized,” the study said.

“However, the strengthening of political parties and local governments’ capacity to deliver basic services will be crucial going forward,” it said.

Maritime dispute

The ongoing tension between the Philippines and China over the disputes in the South China Sea has also contributed to the low rank of the Philippines in the GPI.

“The Philippines’ relations with China have deteriorated in the past few years, as the Chinese government has become more assertive in its claims over various parts of the South China Sea (SCS), areas of which are also claimed by the Philippines,” it said.

The study cited the Philippines filing of an arbitration case before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) challenging China’s nine-dash line claim over 90 percent of the South China Sea.

“The move, which China said ‘seriously damaged bilateral relations’, was a risky one and could result in a long-term estrangement between the two sides. As a consequence, the Philippines score for relations with neighboring countries deteriorated this year,” the study said.

China continues to refuse to participate in the proceedings and insists on bilateral negotiations.


MANILA TIMES EDITORIAL

Don’t forget the Ampatuan Massacre


Editorial Cartoon: Maguindanao Massacre Posted on November 27, 2012 by Aljin Chris C. Magsino — Leave a comment illustrated by Aljin Chris Magsino FROM THE SPARK WORDPRESS BLOG

ALTHOUGH the November 23, 2009 massacre in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao, happened about seven months before President B. S. Aquino 3rd assumed power, we cannot but—to a great extent—agree with the Human Rights civil society organization Karapatan’s secretry-general when she angrily denounces him because “his government is shameless. He is impunity personified. His name is Noynoy ‘Impunity’ Aquino.

Those are the words of Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary-general. She will say these words today, the eve of the International Day to End Impunity, which is on November 23. That is a dark day in the history of humanity. It is also the anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre.

On that day 58 Filipinos, of which 32 were journalists and media workers, were mercilessly killed by heavily armed men, warriors of the powerful and dynastic Ampatuan clan after which the town in Maguindanao province is named.

Every year since that tragic day five years ago, the relatives of the victims return to that place of infamy. The victims were not only gunned down. Almost half of the murdered were buried in pits, together with their vehicles. The pits were dug with a backhoe, which was also used to crush and flatten the vehicles, so that these could easily be entombed with the victims’ remains.

During the five years that have passed nothing has progressed in the prosecution of the Ampatuans and their retainers who committed the mass murder.

“There is madness going on right before our eyes with witnesses and potential witnesses being killed one by one. The Ampatuans may be in jail but their power has not diminished. They are still able to silence witnesses,” Karapatan’s Palabay says. And asks, “But what is the BS Aquino government doing?”

Nothing to make a difference.

It’s attention is focused on covering up for the crimes its officials have committed and are still committing. They are consumed by their plans and strategies to secure the victory of their candidates in the 2016 election.

Karapatan narrates that on November 19, the former driver of Ampatuan Sr., Dennis Sakal, was killed. And Butch Saudagal, known as Ampatuan Jr’s bagman, was wounded. Both were shot while riding a motorcycle to Sharrif Aguak. They were being turned, they were getting ready to testifying against their former bosses. Now their testimonies have disappeared–like the flesh and blood of the massacre victims.

“The BS Aquino government coddles the Ampatuans in the same way that it coddles and protects the notorious general Jovito Palparan who is housed at the Philippine Army camp,” Palabay says.

Five years ago, the whole world was stunned with the massacre of 58 persons. Five years have passed and [there is] still no sign that the murderers will be convicted,” Palabay laments.

Instead of admitting that President Aquino should do much more work, should use his ppower and influence to stop human rights abuses and help convict abusers, like the perpetrators of the Ampatuan Massacre, Malacañang keeps insisting that the President’s hands are clean and he must not be accused of committing human rights abuse.

Yes, he may not be personally killing people. But he is not moving to stop those who are, who do extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances. And he allows the armed forces and police brass to hide the abusers’ crimes.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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