PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEKEND

NAIA 3 TURNS OUT TO BE GATEWAY TO NOWHERE FOR MANY

DEC 27 ---The Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Terminal 3 was anything but a premier gateway to and from the Philippine capital on Christmas Day and the day after—in fact, for many it was a gateway to nowhere—as long lines and delayed and canceled flights annoyed airline passengers who had been looking forward to spending the holidays in the provinces. At least 14 complaints were lodged at the Civil Aeronautics Board counter at the NAIA 3 as of noon Friday. All complainants were passengers of Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) who were not able to board their flights due to the long queues to the airline’s check-in counters. NAIA 3 terminal manager Octavio Lina himself described the terminal as “Walang mahulugang karayom (no place for a pin to drop)” as it was crammed with people on Thursday and Friday. One of the complainants was Yinon Tzafrir from Israel. He had planned to the holidays on Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte with his friends. In a fit of rage after he was told that he would be reassigned to another flight, the Israeli kept on shouting at the airline personnel, blaming Philippine authorities for their alleged inefficiency, according to personnel of the CAB who witnessed the incident on Friday morning. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: For UK filmmaker, PH is in the heart 

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines—Puti ang balat, pero Pinoy ang puso (My skin is white but my heart is Filipino).”  The message is written on the shirt that British television documentary filmmaker Hazel Andrea-Stuart often wears. And that’s exactly what she is. Hazel has dedicated her life to making documentaries that feature the Philippines’ wonders, as well as its culture and exceptional people. On Sept. 19, she launched her 75th film on the Philippines, “The Christmas Spirit 24/7,” at L’Fisher Hotel in Bacolod City. The film is about the many unsung heroes in the Philippines who demonstrate the true Christmas spirit of giving not just at Christmastime. READ FULL STORY...

ALSO: Noy worse than Gloria, CPP says

2 But Reds free 2 soldiers ahead of negotiations THE Communist Party of the Philippines accused the Aquino administration Friday of being worse than the Arroyo government in terms of violating human rights and immunity agreements. The critical assessment was released on the CPP’s 46th anniversary despite the expected resumption of formal peace talks next month. “The Aquino regime is definitely far worse than the Arroyo regime in imprisoning far more people on trumped-up multiple charges of rebellion and common crimes in violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law,” the CPP said. But while it criticized the Aquino administration, the communist rebels also released on Friday two military hostages they called “prisoners of war” to mark the CPP’s 46th anniversary. READ FULL STORY...

ALSO: Talks with Reds resume

PHOTO: Sison is the CPP (now called Bagong Hukbong Baya) Photo from josemariasison.org 40 Breakthrough leads to end of three-year impasse NEGOTIATIONS to end the longest-running communist insurgency in the world will likely resume after the visit of Pope Francis in January, a breakthrough in the three-year impasse in talks that started 28 years ago, according to Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison. Sison Photo from josemariasison.org “We can expect the resumption of the formal talks of the government and [National Democratic Front] negotiating panels sometime in January,” Sison said in interview with Manila Standard, referring to the coalition organization of the national democratic movement in the country. Sison founded the CCP in Alaminos, Pangasinan on Dec. 26, 1968 while its military wing, the New People’s Army was established the following year. Amid its victories during the Martial Law era, the NDF was formed in 1973. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: MILF -Secessionists launch political party

Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF political affairs chief. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO  THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front said it finally launched its political party on Dec. 24 in its main camp in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao with more than 110,000 registered volunteers over the three-day assembly that gathered supporters from mainland Mindanao and the island provinces. Called the United Bangsamoro Justice Party, the regional mass-based party will serve as the front’s vehicle for participation in the elections that will be held for the establishment of the Bangsamoro government, the MILF said. Sammy Almansoor, UBJP secretary-general, said the “UBJP will promote the interests of the Bangsamoro, particularly those that have not been achieved in the armed struggle.”  READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Congressman, other politicians own guns seized in New Bilibid Prison

TOOLS OF THE TRADE NBI agents found money counting machines, a Bushmaster rifle, pistols, cash, checks and other items during the raid on the prisoners’ quarters. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO MANILA, Philippines–Several firearms found in the “kubol” (quarters) of Peter Co, one of the high-profile inmates in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), were registered separately in the names of a congressman, a barangay (village) councilman, a former candidate for representative and a government employee, records of the Firearms and Explosives Office of the Philippine National Police showed. The Walther PPK (Serial No. 2004695) is under the name of Guimaras Rep. Joaquin Carlos Rahman Nava. It was registered in December 2011. The Inquirer tried to contact Nava Thursday night for his reaction, but his phone just kept on ringing. The Bushmaster 5.56-mm rifle (Serial No. 143382) is in the name of Carlos Tuquia, who ran under the Liberal Party for a House seat in the second district of Valenzuela City. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: High-profile inmates crave taste of good life 
Fifty thousand pesos for a one-minute phone call? To talk to whom?

No doubt, people who could get them out of the National Bureau of Investigation jail and back into the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City, where they lived like kings in luxurious, secret quarters instead of barred, crowded cells under the noses of corrupt prison officials and guards. But the guards at the NBI jail are made of a different stuff so that the 20 prominent drug convicts moved there before Christmas were offering top buck to be allowed to contact important people outside. “It had come to our attention that the high-profile inmates tried to bribe their guards with as much as P50,000 for the use of their cell phones. They are desperate to make an outside contact,” an NBI agent, who asked not to be identified for lack of authority to talk to reporters, told the Inquirer. The agent said the convicts also refused to eat rationed meals from the NBI canteen. “The high-profile inmates refused to eat the rationed food and instead asked one of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) guards to buy them fast food like KFC, Yellow Cab and Shakey’s,” the agent said. READ FULL FEATURE STORY FROM THE INQUIRER...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

NAIA 3 turns out to be gateway to nowhere for many

MANILA, DECEMBER 29, 2014 (INQUIRER)  Nińa P. Calleja @inquirerdotnet - The Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Terminal 3 was anything but a premier gateway to and from the Philippine capital on Christmas Day and the day after—in fact, for many it was a gateway to nowhere—as long lines and delayed and canceled flights annoyed airline passengers who had been looking forward to spending the holidays in the provinces.

At least 14 complaints were lodged at the Civil Aeronautics Board counter at the NAIA 3 as of noon Friday. All complainants were passengers of Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) who were not able to board their flights due to the long queues to the airline’s check-in counters.

NAIA 3 terminal manager Octavio Lina himself described the terminal as “Walang mahulugang karayom (no place for a pin to drop)” as it was crammed with people on Thursday and Friday.

One of the complainants was Yinon Tzafrir from Israel. He had planned to the holidays on Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte with his friends.

In a fit of rage after he was told that he would be reassigned to another flight, the Israeli kept on shouting at the airline personnel, blaming Philippine authorities for their alleged inefficiency, according to personnel of the CAB who witnessed the incident on Friday morning.

Tension ran high in the morning of December 26 when more passengers were not processed by the airline personnel in time for their flights.

“After waiting three hours in the line to check in my baggage, the flight left. I demand them to pay me back for the days of accommodation, including taxi, hotels, food and because I could not go to Siargao,” the Israeli said in his complaint at the CAB.

Another complainant, Jennifer Dominguez, said she and other passengers were already at the airport at 4:30 a.m. for the 6:30 a.m. Cebu Pacific flight (5J893) to Boracay.

But before their scheduled departure, airline personnel told them that they had to rebook on a later flight.

“The check-in counter was very crowded and without order,” she said.

Dominguez and her companions, however, decided to book flights with another airline, demanding CEB a full refund.

CEB personnel did not explain the long lines, saying they were not authorized by their management to give statements to the press. An official statement was being prepared, they said, although none had materialized by 4 p.m.

In an interview, Lina blamed the delays and congestion on the CEB’s unmanned counters.

“There were a lot of people and the check-in processing of the airline was so slow so flights have been delayed and some passengers were not able to board their scheduled flights,” he said.

He said the CEB has 28 counters to process the check-in of passengers at NAIA 3 but only 20 were open.

“They don’t have enough personnel to accommodate the influx of passengers. We thus requested the airline management to augment its staff. We also opened another bay of check-in counters for them,” Lina said.

By noon time on Friday, the situation at the NAIA 3 had normalized after the flood of people subsided and the CEB had brought in additional personnel from its other offices.

The delayed flights, however, created a domino effect through the day. “One chain reaction is the cancellation of flights at sundown due to certain airports’ sunset limitation,” Lina said.

He explained that some airports, such as Tagbilaran and Caticlan, are not equipped with nighttime navigational aids so planes cannot land and take off after sundown.

On December 25, seven flights were cancelled, six of which were due to the sunset limitation of the airports. On Christmas Eve, 11 flights were cancelled due to sunset limitation, bad weather, and aircraft situation.

Since December 24, more than 300 departing and arriving flights at the NAIA 3 had been delayed, according to Lina.

Many airline passengers sitting on airport stools and even on the floor on Friday said they arrived 5 to 10 hours before their flights as they expected a huge volume of passengers leaving Manila for the holidays.

Apology

In a statement, the CEB issued an apology to all passengers inconvenienced by their “insufficient manpower.”

“The situation came about due to insufficient manpower at the airport, earlier today (Friday),” the budget air carrier said.

The airline had mobilized additional personnel from its service provider and tapped others from its international check-in counters to assist passengers in domestic flights after the NAIA 3 situation.

“We apologize for this inconvenience. We know the importance of the season to our passengers and wish them the best during the rest of the holidays,” the CEB said.

From the original 26 check-in counters, a total of 38 check-in counters had been opened, the CEB said.


FROM THE INQUIRER VISAYAS

For UK filmmaker, PH is in the heart Carla P. Gomez @inquirerdotnet 10:57 PM | Friday, December 26th, 2014

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines—Puti ang balat, pero Pinoy ang puso (My skin is white but my heart is Filipino).”

The message is written on the shirt that British television documentary filmmaker Hazel Andrea-Stuart often wears.

And that’s exactly what she is.

Hazel has dedicated her life to making documentaries that feature the Philippines’ wonders, as well as its culture and exceptional people.

On Sept. 19, she launched her 75th film on the Philippines, “The Christmas Spirit 24/7,” at L’Fisher Hotel in Bacolod City. The film is about the many unsung heroes in the Philippines who demonstrate the true Christmas spirit of giving not just at Christmastime.

With music provided by Jose Mari Chan and his family, it features the generous hearts of people like American pastor Joseph Rosmarino, who runs Calvary Home with his wife, Billie, in Barangay Handumanan in Bacolod. The home cares for more than 150 children because, according to Rosmarino, “no child is ever turned away.”

American pastor Todd Caplinger and his wife, Catherine, run a mission and church in Salvador Benedicto town, Negros Occidental province, which help indigents through livelihood projects.

Also in the film are Chan’s sister, Maria Theresa, and her son, Micco, who are behind One Meal Program, a nonprofit organization that provides underprivileged schoolchildren with such basic needs as repairing classrooms, constructing school buildings and distributing school supplies.

The organization also conducts feeding programs for kindergarten and Grade 1 pupils.

Hazel dedicated her latest film to her late husband, American David Stuart—the reason she came to the Philippines.

David was the son of Dr. Harland Stuart, the first president of Central Philippine University (CPU) in Iloilo City from 1922 until 1938, and Guendolen Reed. He grew up in Iloilo but went back to the United States when he was 14 after his mother got sick.

Hazel was born in Kent, England, where she was part of the elite BBC singers. She later left the group for a solo career.

Her performances—a fusion of her singing, poetry and photos of nature and places projected on a screen behind her—brought her to Lincoln Center in New York, National Geographic in Washington and London’s prestigious Royal Festival Hall.

“I sang a wide range of music from opera to folk song and songs from [musical] shows,” she said.

Hazel met David in 1983 when he and his wife, Marge, went to London upon the insistence of Hazel’s American friend, Betty Weilert. At that time, she was a professor at London College of Music.

“[David and Marge] took me to lunch. The first time I saw him, it was love at first sight, but he was sitting next to his charming wife, Marge,” said Hazel, whose fiancé just died at that time.

The next year, Hazel was on a concert tour in the United States when she learned that Marge had died of a heart attack. She felt sad for David and his three daughters.

Dinner date

Three weeks later, Weilert invited both Hazel and David to dinner. “I felt the same way as before but sat as far as possible from him and did not flutter my eyelashes,” Hazel said.

A few weeks later, Weilbert called her up from the United States to tell her David was going to England. Sixty-seven hours after his arrival in England, David proposed to her on the top step of St. Paul’s Cathedral. He even apologized for being so slow.

Hazel can still remember what David had told her: “When I retire as a project manager for Kodak, I shall buy a motor home and we will go around doing your concerts.”

They got married on July 4, 1985, in brilliant sunshine in Yorkshire, England, and the reception was in the house of Oliver Cromwell, a famous English military and political leader in the 1500s. They had their honeymoon in Jamaica.

“We then moved back to a new house in Rochester, New York, so David could continue until retirement at Kodak,” she said.

David fulfilled his promise. He bought a beautiful motor home and they went all over the United States where she performed more than 100 concerts a year.

Back to Iloilo

David, however, didn’t forget his childhood and wanted to go back to Iloilo.

“As a British videographer, I was thrilled at the thought of seeing the country where my husband grew up. We came for a visit in 1997. I dived and filmed the coral reefs in Tubbataha [Reefs] and in other parts of the country, and fell in love with the people,” Hazel said.

They were later invited by CPU to work as consultants to its Media Center. In 1998, they returned for good.

The couple left CPU in 2002 and started making films about the country.

When David died in 2008 in Iloilo, Hazel moved to Bacolod where she stayed for six years before returning to Iloilo. She kept on making documentaries about the Philippines using her pension because, she said, her love of the Philippines continued to grow.

Her documentaries were shown on Living Asia and some local channels in the Visayas and in the United States.

Five of her films won the International Communicators Awards in the United States.

“I have produced over 75 films on the Philippines, because I live here, and because it is so beautiful. It is a way of bringing publicity to the Philippines, and several times people have thanked me in the street and told me I am doing more for the Philippines than for Filipinos. This means so much to me,” she said.


FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Noy worse than Gloria, CPP says By Joyce Pangco Panares | Dec. 27, 2014 at 12:01am

2 But Reds free 2 soldiers ahead of negotiations

THE Communist Party of the Philippines accused the Aquino administration Friday of being worse than the Arroyo government in terms of violating human rights and immunity agreements.

The critical assessment was released on the CPP’s 46th anniversary despite the expected resumption of formal peace talks next month.

“The Aquino regime is definitely far worse than the Arroyo regime in imprisoning far more people on trumped-up multiple charges of rebellion and common crimes in violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law,” the CPP said.

But while it criticized the Aquino administration, the communist rebels also released on Friday two military hostages they called “prisoners of war” to mark the CPP’s 46th anniversary.

The group said 14 consultants of the National Democratic Front have been jailed by the Aquino government, in violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.

The communists also accused the administration of violating the so-called Hernandez doctrine that stemmed from a 1964 decision of the Supreme Court that rebellion cannot be complexed with other crimes such as murder, robbery and arson.

The Supreme Court at the time allowed the suspect, Amado Hernandez, to post bail and eventually acquitted him, saying crimes such as murder and arson were concomitant and inherent when rebellion is being waged.

“The Aquino regime is fundamentally as bad as the Arroyo regime in allowing illegal detention, torture, extrajudicial killings, forced evacuations, land grabbing from the peasants and repression of workers and their trade unions. The gross and systematic human rights violations under Oplan Bayanihan have exposed the regime’s claims to peace and development as a farce and have pushed the people and revolutionary forces to intensify the resistance in various forms and ways,” the CPP added.

In 2011, months after formal peace negotiations bogged down, government chief negotiator Alexander Padilla said the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees can no longer be invoked by arrested rebel leaders because the communists did not comply with its provisions.

Still, the CPP acknowledged that the National Democratic Front “continues to explore the possibility of peace negotiations in order to attain realizable goals for the benefit of the Filipino people.”

The longest-running insurgency movement in the region added that an indefinite ceasefire with the government can be eventually hammered out.

“What is good about the peace negotiations is that the NDF is able to... help bring about the victory of the revolution in the long run or before then help bring about truce and cooperation with a government that is not led by the party but which adopts patriotic and progressive policies to deal with the severe crisis brought about by imperialism and reaction,” the CPP said.

But in keeping with its annual tradition of calling for the downfall of any sitting government, the CPP also vowed to “support the people’s struggle to oust the Aquino regime as a step towards the overthrow of the entire ruling system or before the rise of a patriotic and progressive transition government.”

“(We must) intensify and advance the people’s war towards the stage of the strategic stalemate along the general line of the people’s democratic revolution,” the CPP said.


SISON TRIES TO SHOW HE IS NOT A TERRORIST....

The CPP’s anniversary statement also acknowledged that the people’s war it has been waging is “developing unevenly.”

“The party’s central leadership is taking prompt and significant measures to address the disparities,” it added.

“All in all, the people’s war is developing unevenly in the various regions across the country and among sub-regions and fronts within a region...Some areas are confronted with problems of advance such as the training of commanders to effectively lead NPA platoons, companies and battalions, raising the capability and initiative of people’s militia units and commands, expanding and consolidating local party sections (among others),” the CPP said.

Earlier, CPP founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison said formal peace talks may resume in January after the visit of Pope Francis.

Sison said agreements on social and economic reforms as well as on an indefinite truce can also be completed before President Benigno Aquino III steps down in 2016.

Malacańang welcomed Sison’s announcement, saying “dialog provides the most viable opportunity for attaining peace.”

Presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles said the government is equally committed to maximize the remaining one year and a half under the Aquino administration in moving the peace talks forward.

Sison said special teams of both sides have met several times in the Netherlands since September “to iron out kinks.”

“The consensus reached by the special teams concern the agenda and compliance with existing agreements,” the communist leader said.

“There shall be one more meeting of the special teams within the first half of January and then the resumption of formal talks of the panels shall be after the papal visit,” Sison added.

The CPP’s armed wing, the New People’s Army released two military hostages Friday to mark the party’s 46th anniversary.

The two kidnap victims, Army PFC’s Jerrel Young and Mamel Cinches were freed after four months to unidentified negotiators and religious leaders at about 10:55 a.m. in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.

The hostages were taken by the rebels following an attack on a military post at Empasug-on, Bukidnon last Aug. 22. The release of Young and Cinches came barely a week after NPA rebels released two Army soldiers they held hostage last Dec. 2, at New Corella town in Davao del Norte.

Communist rebels disguised as workers abducted the two soldiers shortly after raiding a private plantation in Davao del Norte Monday morning.

Running for almost half a century, the communist insurgency has claimed 30,000 lives, according to military estimates.

The military declared a month-long ceasefire with the NPA for the Christmas holidays and Pope Francis’ scheduled visit in January. The rebels said they would observe a shorter truce.

The NPA’s strength has dwindled to 4,000 fighters from a peak of more than 26,000 in the late 1980s, according to the military.

Negotiations under Aquino faltered after the government turned down the rebels’ demands that their detained comrades be released. – With Francisco Tuyay, AFP


FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Talks with Reds resume By Joyce Pangco Panares | Dec. 25, 2014 at 12:01am


Sison is the CPP FOUNDER --Photo from josemariasison.org

40 Breakthrough leads to end of three-year impasse

NEGOTIATIONS to end the longest-running communist insurgency in the world will likely resume after the visit of Pope Francis in January, a breakthrough in the three-year impasse in talks that started 28 years ago, according to Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison.

Sison Photo from josemariasison.org “We can expect the resumption of the formal talks of the government and [National Democratic Front] negotiating panels sometime in January,” Sison said in interview with Manila Standard, referring to the coalition organization of the national democratic movement in the country.

Sison founded the CCP in Alaminos, Pangasinan on Dec. 26, 1968 while its military wing, the New People’s Army was established the following year. Amid its victories during the Martial Law era, the NDF was formed in 1973.

Sison said special teams from the communists and the government have met several times in The Netherlands since September “to iron out kinks” in the resumption of the talks in Oslo, Norway that were stalled several times in the past because of various disputes.

“The consensus reached by the special teams concern the agenda and compliance with existing agreements,” Sison said, pointing to previous pacts, including the so-called 1998 Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

“There shall be one more meeting of the special teams within the first half of January and then the resumption of formal talks of the panels shall be after the papal visit,” Sison added.

Sison announced the resumption of the talks after NPA spokesman Jorge Madlos said on Monday that they will release “prisoners of war” – four soldiers, three policemen, and two militiamen – will be released on the CPP’s 46th anniversary Dec. 26 as a gesture of goodwill.

“They will be released through their respective custodial units of the NPA,” Madlos said, adding that the prisoners will be released without conditions in the hope that it will lead to the resumption of the peace talks.

Presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles earlier hinted that the public can expect a “surprise development” in the peace talks with the CPP-NDF in January.

“We are at what you’d call an impasse right now. But our goal has always been to revive the formal negotiations,” Deles said.

Deles disclosed many concerned stakeholders outside of the government and CPP negotiating panels have been doing back-channel talks.

Both the government and the NPA have issued extended unilateral ceasefire declarations for the holidays and until the visit of Pope Francis on Jan. 15 to 19.

The CPP also assured the public that there will be no threats against the pope from their end because they believe the papal visit will be an opportunity to draw attention to social problems in the Philippines.

The communist insurgency in the Philippines was born out of peasant revolts in various parts of the country in the 1930s and was officially named Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas, whose leaders Crisanto Evangelista, Pedro Abad Santos and Jesus Lava were influenced by Stalinist Russia.

But the PKP waned with the prosperity of the 1950s and 1960s until growing poverty and agrarian inequities led Sison and other peasant leaders, spurred by the victories of Maoist China, to revive the communist movement under its current name in 1968.

The CPP gained ground during the Martial Law years and reached its peak in the early 1980s, when its armed wing was estimated to number some 25,000.

“In the 1980s, most of the communist parties in Southeast Asia have been already defeated or disbanded but the CPP achieved remarkable military strength and political influence during this period,” former congressman Raymond Palatino said in an article on the left-leaning website Bulatlat.com.

But abuses and human rights violations by communist leaders caused a substantial reduction in its mass support most especially in the provinces. The CPP has since apologized for what it described as “grave mistakes.”

“The CPP became the first Philippine political party to admit that it committed serious political errors in the 1980s,” Palatino said.

Talks to end the insurgency began in 1986 after leftists pushed Sison to come to a rapprochement with the administration of then President Corazon Aquino, but rightist elements threatened the Aquino administration with a series of coup attempts

“The rectification campaign lasted throughout the 1990s which the CPP credited for the resurgence of the local mass movement,” Palatino added.

|The Philippine government will be the first to dispute this,” he said, “but what is certain is that the CPP has remained a major political force in the country; and after 45 years, it continues to lead the world’s longest Maoist revolution.”


FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

MILF -Secessionists launch political party By MST News | Dec. 27, 2014 at 12:01am


Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF political affairs chief. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front said it finally launched its political party on Dec. 24 in its main camp in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao with more than 110,000 registered volunteers over the three-day assembly that gathered supporters from mainland Mindanao and the island provinces.

Called the United Bangsamoro Justice Party, the regional mass-based party will serve as the front’s vehicle for participation in the elections that will be held for the establishment of the Bangsamoro government, the MILF said.

Sammy Almansoor, UBJP secretary-general, said the “UBJP will promote the interests of the Bangsamoro, particularly those that have not been achieved in the armed struggle.”

The “First Volunteers General Assembly” is, among others, preparatory to an official accreditation of the party by the Commission on Elections.

“We have to show the COMELEC that we have followers,” said Almansoor who is also the chief of staff of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces.

Almansoor hailed the huge crowd of green-clad volunteers whom he described as the backbone of the new political party and critical for the success of the UBJP.

In explaining why the MILF is forming a political party, Almansoor said the UBJP will be a mechanism for transforming itself from a revolutionary movement to a political party that will engage in parliamentary struggle.

MILF Chief Negotiator Mohagher Iqbal admitted that the MILF has no experience in party formation over its past 42 years of armed struggle, and that the UBJP is an “entirely new horizon, a new struggle.”

“We know that politics can sometimes be divisive, but we hope that our establishment of a genuinely-principled political party will humanize the system,” said Iqbal who is also UBJP vice-president for Southern Mindanao.

Iqbal said the UBJP will be “owned, managed and led by the Bangsamoro people.”

“We have to face the challenge of transforming our bullets into ballots,” he said.

Several sectors aired their support to the creation of the UBJP.

A representative from the professionals appealed to the leadership of the nascent party that it must “continue the unfinished agenda of the MILF and Bangsamoro.”

Mary Ann Arnado of the Mindanao People’s Caucus expressed hope that the party will usher in a “new form of politics.”

Abhoud Syed Lingga of the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies appealed to the party volunteers to register now and vote along party-lines in the anticipated referendum for the Bangsamoro Basic Law so that “this assembly would not be meaningless.”

Statements of support were also made by the ulama, business, women, indigenous peoples, youth, farmers, the academe, labor, transport, overseas workers, senior citizens and traditional leaders.

Several incumbent and previously elected politicians, like Gerry Salapuddin of Basilan and Benjamin Loong of Sulu, also graced the opening rites of the assembly that will culminate in the afternoon of Dec. 25.

Ustadz Khalifa Nando of the MILF Supreme Shariah Court administered the oath of office of the party officials in the closing program of the assembly.

The leadership of the party will be composed of the following:

President: Alhaj Murad Ebrahim

VP Western Mindanao: Mahmour Estino

VP Northern Mindanao: Aleem Ali Solaiman

VP Central Mindanao: Ghadzali Jaafar

VP Southern Mindanao: Mohagher Iqbal

VP Eastern Mindanao: Hussein Munoz

Secretary-General: Sammy Almansoor

The provincial executive officers for Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and Davao Oriental are also expected to be sworn in as party officials.


FROM THE INQUIRER

Congressman, other politicians own guns seized in New Bilibid Prison Nancy C. Carvajal @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:33 AM | Friday, December 19th, 2014


TOOLS OF THE TRADE NBI agents found money counting machines, a Bushmaster rifle, pistols, cash, checks and other items during the raid on the prisoners’ quarters. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–Several firearms found in the “kubol” (quarters) of Peter Co, one of the high-profile inmates in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), were registered separately in the names of a congressman, a barangay (village) councilman, a former candidate for representative and a government employee, records of the Firearms and Explosives Office of the Philippine National Police showed.

The Walther PPK (Serial No. 2004695) is under the name of Guimaras Rep. Joaquin Carlos Rahman Nava. It was registered in December 2011.

The Inquirer tried to contact Nava Thursday night for his reaction, but his phone just kept on ringing.

The Bushmaster 5.56-mm rifle (Serial No. 143382) is in the name of Carlos Tuquia, who ran under the Liberal Party for a House seat in the second district of Valenzuela City.

The Browning 9-mm handgun (Serial No. 245PN6227) is listed in the name of Avelino Dalimocon Nicanor, a government employee with connections in the Bureau of Corrections.

The Taurus 9-mm (Serial No. TBU1297) is in the name of Vicente Tan Alindada Jr., a councilor in Caloocan City’s Barangay 8.

The firearms, records showed, were not reported stolen or lost.

A convicted drug trafficker, Co was also identified as Wu Tuan Yuan. He was among the 20 “VIPs” removed from the NBP maximum security compound in Muntinlupa City on a raid last Monday.

In February 2010, a raid on his cell by BNP personnel yielded five sachets of “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride) containing 10 grams each and illegal drugs paraphernalia.

Election financier

Co financed several political candidates in Metro Manila in exchange for protection, according to an intelligence report of antidrug units from the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation.

“In order to further his drug business and widen his distribution areas, he financed electoral campaigns of politicians who would become his protectors,” an antidrug operative told the Inquirer.

Members of the NBI antidrug unit, led by lawyer Eric Isidoro, searched Co’s quarters when police and NBI agents led by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima swooped on the maximum-security compound of the NBP on Dec. 15.

Twenty inmates, (not 19 as earlier reported), believed to be drug lords, were transferred from the NBP to an NBI facility after the raid.

Isidoro’s team was assigned to search the kubol of three top convicts—Peter Co, Tony Co and Hans Sy Chua.

Also found in Peter Co’s kubol were loaded magazines and ammunition, laptops and sex toys.

Based on an NBI report, Co’s carpeted bedroom had a digital lock and an electric water pump. It was equipped with closed-circuit television cameras.

Co’s bathroom included a sauna and a Jacuzzi, found behind a false wall.

Also found in his quarters were a projector, an Apple desktop, five cell phones, a bar, two bedrooms (one of which was equipped with disco lights), a vault with P1.4 million in cash, an undetermined amount of shabu, expensive liquors and wines, an Internet signal booster and a refrigerator filled with frozen meat.

NBI agents who frisked Co found P169,000 and $2,600 in his pockets.

Co was wearing a diamond-studded Rolex watch when he was taken from his quarters in the Commando Gang building being protected by a certain JB Sebastian.

De Lima is scheduled to return to the NBP Friday to find out if her order to dismantle the illegal structures of the high-profile inmates was carried out, according to NBI Director Virgilio Mendez.

Mendez said NBI agents would act as security escort of the justice secretary.


 FROM THE INQUIRER

High-profile inmates crave taste of good life Nancy C. Carvajal @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:32 AM | Saturday, December 27th, 2014

Fifty thousand pesos for a one-minute phone call? To talk to whom?

No doubt, people who could get them out of the National Bureau of Investigation jail and back into the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City, where they lived like kings in luxurious, secret quarters instead of barred, crowded cells under the noses of corrupt prison officials and guards.

But the guards at the NBI jail are made of a different stuff so that the 20 prominent drug convicts moved there before Christmas were offering top buck to be allowed to contact important people outside.

“It had come to our attention that the high-profile inmates tried to bribe their guards with as much as P50,000 for the use of their cell phones. They are desperate to make an outside contact,” an NBI agent, who asked not to be identified for lack of authority to talk to reporters, told the Inquirer.

The agent said the convicts also refused to eat rationed meals from the NBI canteen.

“The high-profile inmates refused to eat the rationed food and instead asked one of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) guards to buy them fast food like KFC, Yellow Cab and Shakey’s,” the agent said.

As a result of that accommodation and the report about the P50,000 phone call, all guards assigned to the 20 convicts have been ordered not to carry cell phones, pens and paper when on duty.

“The measure is to ensure that high-profile inmates could not bribe the guards whether from the BuCor or the NBI,” the agent said.

The agent also said bank robbery-convict Herbert Colangco, one of the 20, had asked that his music band be allowed to perform in the NBI jail on Christmas Eve. The request was rejected, the agent said.

“Colangco’s reason was he wanted to serenade other prisoners in the jail on Christmas Eve,” the agent said.

Incommunicado

He said the band arrived at the NBI on Christmas Eve and left after three hours when Colangco’s request was denied.

The convicts remained incommunicado and were not allowed to accept visitors, including their lawyers, even on Christmas Day, the agent said.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ordered the 20 convicts moved to the NBI jail and be held there temporarily incommunicado after the discovery of their luxurious quarters at the NBP during a raid on the National Penitentiary on Dec. 15.

The raid followed reports of illegal drug operations right inside the NBP.

Seized during the raid were methamphetamines believed to be worth P2 million, wads of cash, guns and expensive watches. Discovered in the convicts’ secret quarters were air conditioners, Jacuzzi, sauna, wide-screen television sets, power generators, music studio and sex toys.

Ordered transferred to the NBI headquarters in Manila were convicts Eugene Chua, Sam Li Chua, Vicente Sy, George Sy, Tony Co, Joel Capones, Colangco, Peter Co, Imam Boratong, Clarence Domingo, Tom Chua, Rommel Capones, Jojo Baligad, Willy Chua, Michael Ong, Jacky King, Willy Sy, Noel Martinez and Dona Agojo.

Three prison officials were sacked and placed under investigation, along with a number of prison guards after the raid.

The agent said security had been stepped up around the NBI headquarters amid reports of a jailbreak with aid from “mercenaries.”

He said more platoons of the elite Philippine National Police Special Action Force were deployed on Christmas Eve to the NBI compound.

“There are reports of as much as P50 million for each drug convict to a group that could set them free from the NBI jail,” the agent said.

Mass for inmates?

The source also said Catholic Bishop Ephraim Perez had asked to see drug convict Eugene Chua, but the request was denied.

Perez, according to the agent, at first wanted to talk to Chua. When his request was denied, Perez asked to say Mass for all the inmates at the NBI compound.

When contacted by the Inquirer, Perez denied going to the NBI asking for an audience with Chua.

“I did not go to the NBI and I do not know Chua,” Perez said in a telephone interview.

He also denied asking to say Mass for NBI inmates.

“My schedule for Mass is full. I could not say Mass for them during Christmas,” Perez said.

Transfer questioned

A sister of Martinez has filed a petition in the Court of Appeals questioning the transfer of her brother to the NBI jail.

De Lima has said a court order is not needed to transfer the convicts to the NBI jail because they have lost their civil and political rights and they are under the jurisdiction of the corrections bureau, which operates the NBP.

She has also said the NBI detention center is an extension of the NBP, the corrections bureau and the NBI, these agencies being under the Department of Justice.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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