PHNO WORLD HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEKEND

THE TURK WHO SHOT AND WOUNDED JOHN PAUL 2 IN 1981 LEAVES FLOWERS ON SAINT JOHN PAUL'S TOMB ON SATURDAY 

PHOTO: FILE - In this Dec. 27, 1983 file photo provided by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope John Paul II, left, meets Mehmet Ali Agca, in Agca's prison cell in Rome. The Vatican says the Turk who shot and wounded John Paul II in 1981 has laid flowers on the saint's tomb in St. Peter's Basilica. A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, said the surprise visit Saturday by Mehmet Ali Agca lasted a few minutes. As with other flowers left by visitors to the tomb, the white blossoms were later removed by basilica workers. John Paul visited the incarcerated Agca in 1983 and later intervened with Italian authorities to gain Agca's release in 2000 from the Italian prison where he was serving a life sentence for the assassination attempt in St. Peter's Square. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, File) READ FULL STORY BELOW...

ALSO: North Korea calls Obama 'monkey in forest'  in Sony hacking row; 'Runny nose' US also blamed for intermittent internet outages of North Korean websites 
------ North Korea's powerful National Defence Commission, which is headed by country leader Kim Jong-un described the movie as illegal, dishonest and reactionary. "Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest," an unidentified spokesman at the commission's Policy Department said in a statement carried by the country's official Korean Central News Agency.It wasn't the first time North Korea has used crude insults against Obama and other top U.S. and South Korean officials. Earlier this year, North Korea called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a wolf with a "hideous" lantern jaw and South Korean President Park Geun-hye a prostitute. In May, the North's official news agency published a dispatch saying Obama has the "shape of a monkey." A State Department spokeswoman at the time called the North Korean dispatch "offensive and ridiculous and absurd."  READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: 'The Interview' grosses more than $1M US in limited release; Film had been expected to take in $20M over holiday weekend, before Sony cyberattack 

PHOTO: The Interview appeared in a limited number of theatres on Dec. 25, including this one in Atlanta. (Tami Chappell/Reuters) The Interview gets Canadian online release Theatres shunning The Interview are likely buckling to 'an empty threat' The Interview took in more than $1 million in a limited Christmas Day release, a decent start for the raunchy comedy that appeared dead after Sony Pictures pulled it from theaters last week following a devastating cyberattack blamed on North Korea. Even though the film was very much in the zeitgeist and also up for rental on YouTube and Google Play, it was unclear whether the Seth Rogan movie would recoup the $44 million it cost to make, or the additional millions spent on marketing. The comedy, steeped in gross-out, bathroom humour that depicts a fictional plot to assassinate North Korea leader Kim Jong-un, managed to fill a few hundred theatres that made a last-minute push to screen the film.

ALSO: North Korea Now Has Its Internet Back Up -- and a Global Reputation for How Easy It Is to Take Down 

PHOTO: Photographer: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images -- The Pyongyang skyline. -- North Korea’s limited access to the Internet was restored after being cut off for hours, days after the U.S. government accused the country of hacking into Sony Corp. (6758)’s files. The connection, which can be patchy, was restored after a nearly 10-hour outage, Dyn Research said on Twitter today. Two state-run news websites were working as of 11:30 a.m. local time, including that of the Workers’ Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun, which showed leader Kim Jong Un touring a catfish farm. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Top Communist says Aquino government not serious about talking peace; Insincere!   

PHOTO: Jorge Madlos, spokesman of the National Democratic Front and top leader of the New People’s Army in Mindanao. Bobby Lagsa MARIHATAG, Surigao del Sur – The top communist rebel leader in Mindanao doubted the government’s sincerity in seeking an end to the country’s 46-year Maoist insurgency and is not hoping to see a happy end to the peace talks in his lifetime. Speaking with reporters during the 46th anniversary rites of the Communist Party of the Philippines in Barangay San Isidro here, the 66-year-old Jorge Madlos said he supports the resumption of the peace talks between the National Democratic Front but the government has proven to be insincere in the past. “We will continue to show interest in the peace talks,” he said, adding that the New People’s Army released several captive soldiers and policemen on Friday to show its goodwill in reopening peace negotiations that stalled three years ago. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Joma Sison looks forward to meet with Aquino

Communist Party of the Philippines founding chair Jose Ma. Sison. FILE PHOTO President Benigno Aquino III to jump-start peace talks with the government, a confidence-building measure reminiscent of the Chief Executive’s secret meeting with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief Murad Ebrahim. “My meeting with the President can still happen if there is already a substantive agreement or if the meeting can be inspiring, as a confidence-building measure,” Sison told the Inquirer in a message late Friday afternoon. Asked if the “friends” of both parties mentioned by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Deles in a statement were working toward his meeting with Mr. Aquino, Sison said, “Yes.” He said the meeting with Mr. Aquino to discuss the peace negotiations could happen if “there is new substantive agreement or if the booster is needed at a certain point.” READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Pope Benedict and his 2 major contributions 

Getting sandwiched between two charismatic Pontiffs hardly did any favors to Pope Benedict XVI in the realm of public relations, but an Argentine priest based in the Philippines believes that this often underappreciated Vatican leader deserves a lot of thanks and praise. Father Luciano Felloni of Our Lady of Lourdes in Camarin, Caloocan City, speaks highly of Pope Benedict, noting that “Papa Ratzi” (a wordplay of the Pope’s real name, Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger) has two significant contributions to the Catholic Church and by extension, the laity. “Tignan mo si Pope Benedict na halos hindi pinapasalamatan ng tao, may dalawang bagay siyang ginawa na very important (Pope Benedict, who is almost not thanked by the people, did two very important things),” said the Tagalog-speaking Parish priest. Ratzinger, 87, of Germany, was elected to the papacy on April 19, 2005 following the death of his close personal friend, the much-beloved Pope John Paul II. Benedict led the Church quietly until his resignation on Feb. 28, 2013, paving the way for His Holiness, Pope Francis, who has captivated the world thanks to his transformational leadership. Benedict was given the title Pope Emeritus after his resignation, an act that paved the way for future popes to follow his lead. READ FULL REPORT...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Agca leaves flowers on John Paul's tomb in Vatican


FILE - In this Dec. 27, 1983 file photo provided by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope John Paul II, left, meets Mehmet Ali Agca, in Agca's prison cell in Rome. The Vatican says the Turk who shot and wounded John Paul II in 1981 has laid flowers on the saint's tomb in St. Peter's Basilica. A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, said the surprise visit Saturday by Mehmet Ali Agca lasted a few minutes. As with other flowers left by visitors to the tomb, the white blossoms were later removed by basilica workers. John Paul visited the incarcerated Agca in 1983 and later intervened with Italian authorities to gain Agca's release in 2000 from the Italian prison where he was serving a life sentence for the assassination attempt in St. Peter's Square. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, File)

VATICAN CITY, DECEMBER 29, 2014 (PHILSTAR) (Associated Press) — The Turkish gunman who shot and wounded John Paul II in 1981 laid white flowers yesterday on the saint's tomb in St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican officials said.

A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, said the surprise visit by Mehmet Ali Agca, believed to be his first time in the Vatican since the assassination attempt, lasted a few minutes. As with other flowers left by visitors to the tomb, the blossoms were later removed by basilica workers.

Benedettini said there are no legal matters pending against Agca in the Vatican and he was free to visit.

In 1983, John Paul, who pardoned his attacker, visited Agca in a Rome prison and later intervened to gain Agca's release in 2000. Agca was extradited to Turkey For the 1979 killing of a Turkish journalist and he completed a 10-year sentence there in 2010.

When Agca was apprehended after shooting the pontiff in St. Peter's Square during a public audience, the Turk said he acted alone. Later he suggested Bulgaria and the Soviet secret services masterminded the attack on the Polish-born pontiff, whose championing of the Polish Solidarity labor movement alarmed Moscow.

Twice, Italian juries acquitted three Bulgarians and three Turks of alleged roles in the shooting. Agca has often given contradictory accounts and has claimed to be a Messiah.

Italian TV ran a brief video of the tomb visit, apparently filmed by an Italian journalist accompanying Agca in the basilica. The Turk is heard to mumble, "A thousand thanks, saint," and "Long live Jesus Christ."


FROM CBC CANADA, TORONTO

North Korea describes Obama with racial slur in Sony hacking row
Washington also blamed for intermittent internet outages of North Korean websites
The Associated Press Posted: Dec 27, 2014 5:59 AM ET Last Updated: Dec 27, 2014 4:33 PM ET


A security guard stands at the entrance of United Artists theatre during the premiere of the film The Interview. A limited release in independent theatres pulled in about $1 million US for the film on Christmas Day. A security guard stands at the entrance of United Artists theatre during the premiere of the film The Interview. A limited release in independent theatres pulled in about $1 million US for the film on Christmas Day. (Kevork Djansezian/Reuters)

North Korea blamed its recent internet outage on the United States on Saturday and hurled racially charged insults at U.S. President Barack Obama over the hacking row involving the movie The Interview.

North Korea's powerful National Defence Commission, which is headed by country leader Kim Jong-un and is the nation's top governing body, said Obama was behind the release of the comedy that depicts Kim's assassination. The commission described the movie as illegal, dishonest and reactionary.

"Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest," an unidentified spokesman at the commission's Policy Department said in a statement carried by the country's official Korean Central News Agency.

The Interview grosses more than $1M US in limited release The Interview gets Canadian online release Theatres shunning The Interview are likely buckling to 'an empty threat' North Korea blamed its recent internet outage on the United States on Saturday and hurled racially charged insults at U.S. President Barack Obama over the hacking row involving the movie The Interview.

North Korea's powerful National Defence Commission, which is headed by country leader Kim Jong-un and is the nation's top governing body, said Obama was behind the release of the comedy that depicts Kim's assassination. The commission described the movie as illegal, dishonest and reactionary.

"Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest," an unidentified spokesman at the commission's Policy Department said in a statement carried by the country's official Korean Central News Agency.

The Interview gets Canadian online release Theatres shunning The Interview likely buckling to 'an empty threat' The Interview grosses more than $1M US in limited release North Korea websites back online after outages The White House's National Security Council declined to comment Saturday.

North Korea has denied involvement in a crippling cyberattack on Sony Pictures but has expressed fury over the comedy. Sony Pictures initially called off the release of the film, citing threats of terror attacks against U.S. movie theatres. Obama criticized Sony's decision, and the movie opened this past week.

Crude insults common

It wasn't the first time North Korea has used crude insults against Obama and other top U.S. and South Korean officials. Earlier this year, North Korea called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a wolf with a "hideous" lantern jaw and South Korean President Park Geun-hye a prostitute. In May, the North's official news agency published a dispatch saying Obama has the "shape of a monkey."

A State Department spokeswoman at the time called the North Korean dispatch "offensive and ridiculous and absurd."

In the latest incident, the North Korean defence commission also blamed Washington for intermittent outages of North Korean websites this past week. The outages happened after Obama blamed the Sony hack on North Korea and promised to respond "in a place and time and manner that we choose."

The U.S. government has declined to say whether it was behind the internet shutdown in North Korea.

According to the North Korean commission's spokesman, "the U.S., a big country, started disturbing the internet operation of major media of the DPRK, not knowing shame like children playing tag." DPRK refers to the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The commission said the movie was the result of a hostile U.S. policy toward North Korea, and threatened the U.S. with unspecified consequences.

North Korea and the U.S. remain technically in a state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. The rivals also are locked in an international standoff over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and its alleged human rights abuses.

A United Nations commission accuses North Korea of a wide array of crimes against humanity, including murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment and rape.

The U.S. stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea as deterrence against North Korean aggression.


FROM CBC CANADA, TORONTO

The Interview grosses more than $1M US in limited release
Film had been expected to take in $20M over holiday weekend, before Sony cyberattack -
 Thomson Reuters Posted: Dec 26, 2014 12:51 PM ET Last Updated: Dec 26, 2014 6:15 PM ET


The Interview appeared in a limited number of theatres on Dec. 25, including this one in Atlanta. (Tami Chappell/Reuters)

The Interview gets Canadian online release Theatres shunning The Interview are likely buckling to 'an empty threat' The Interview took in more than $1 million in a limited Christmas Day release, a decent start for the raunchy comedy that appeared dead after Sony Pictures pulled it from theaters last week following a devastating cyberattack blamed on North Korea.

Even though the film was very much in the zeitgeist and also up for rental on YouTube and Google Play, it was unclear whether the Seth Rogan movie would recoup the $44 million it cost to make, or the additional millions spent on marketing.

The comedy, steeped in gross-out, bathroom humour that depicts a fictional plot to assassinate North Korea leader Kim Jong-un, managed to fill a few hundred theatres that made a last-minute push to screen the film.

"They (Sony) got $1 million in sales, that's a nice bit of gravy... knowing the main release isn't happening the way it should be," said Gitesh Pandya, editor of boxofficeguru.com.

The Interview was shown in 331 mostly independent theatres in the United States — less than 10 per cent of its planned wide release — after major U.S. movie chains balked at showing the movie due to security concerns.

It was expected to gross at least $20 million over the long holiday weekend if in wide release, according to Boxoffice.com.

Sony Pictures also released the movie online via Google Inc's YouTube and Google Play, Microsoft Corp's Xbox gaming console and Sony's own dedicated website. It is looking for more partners for digital distribution, though hundreds of thousands of people have reportedly downloaded it from pirate sites.

"Considering the incredibly challenging circumstances, we are extremely grateful to the people all over the country who came out to experience The Interview on the first day of its unconventional release," Rory Bruer, Sony Pictures president of distribution, said in a statement.

'Better than I thought'

The controversy gave the film exposure to audiences that might never have gone to see the movie, and many who showed up on Christmas Day said they were there to support free speech.

One of those was David Humdy, 65, an entertainment industry accountant who saw the film in Los Angeles and declared it "silly, entertaining, better than I thought."

So far, Sony has not released online sales figures, but the screwball comedy was the top film on YouTube and Google Play.

Pandya believes Sony Pictures will be able to absorb losses easily, as it is not unusual for a film of its budget to fall short.

"It's hard to find a way that they recoup it all because they did end up spending a lot of money on marketing for a theatrical release that never happened," he added.

Pandya estimated that The Interview would have grossed about $5 million on Christmas Day had it been in wide release.

It did take in an estimated $3,142 per screen without the benefit of playing in the largest multiplexes. That is about double the amount if the film had been in wide release.

The two biggest Christmas Day releases, Universal's Unbroken and Disney's Into the Woods, respectively grossed $4,980 and $6,182 per screen, according to studio estimates.


FROM CBC CANADA IN TORONTO

North Korea Now Has Its Internet Back Up -- and a Global Reputation for How Easy It Is to Take Down By Jordan Robertson and Chris Strohm Dec 22, 2014 10:25 PM ET 729 Comments Email Print Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Save

North Korea’s limited access to the Internet was restored after being cut off for hours, days after the U.S. government accused the country of hacking into Sony Corp. (6758)’s files.

The connection, which can be patchy, was restored after a nearly 10-hour outage, Dyn Research said on Twitter today. Two state-run news websites were working as of 11:30 a.m. local time, including that of the Workers’ Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun, which showed leader Kim Jong Un touring a catfish farm.

North Korea, which has four official networks connecting the country to the Internet -- all of which route through China -- began experiencing intermittent problems yesterday and today went completely dark, according to Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis at Dyn Research in Hanover, New Hampshire.

“I don’t know that someone is launching a cyber-attack against North Korea, but this isn’t normal for them,” Madory said. “It is kind of out of the ordinary. This is not like anything I’ve seen before.”

U.S. President Barack Obama said last week that Sony Pictures Entertainment had suffered significant damage and vowed to respond. North Korea warned yesterday that any U.S. punishment over the hacking attack on would lead to a retaliation “thousands of times greater.” North Korea has said it doesn’t know the identity of the hackers -- who call themselves “Guardians of Peace” -- claiming responsibility for breaking into Sony’s computer network.


Photographer: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images The Pyongyang skyline.

Sony Attack

The attack on Sony’s computers destroyed data, exposed Hollywood secrets and caused the studio to cancel the release of “The Interview,” a comedy about a fictional assassination of Kim Jong Un. The hackers rendered thousands of computers inoperable and forced Sony to take its entire computer network offline.

The outage probably isn’t a cut of a fiber-optic cable, which would be shown in an immediate loss of connectivity, and other possible explanations include a software meltdown on North Korea’s Web routers or denial-of-service hacking attacks, Madory said.

Marie Harf, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, told reporters in Washington today she can’t confirm reports of cyber-attacks on North Korea and won’t say what steps the U.S. may take in response to the Sony attack.

“We are considering a range of options in response,” Harf said at a State Department briefing. “Some will be seen. Some may not be seen.”

While North Korea has four networks connected to the Internet, the U.S. has more than 152,000 such networks, according to Dyn Research.

 More Flooding Servers

North Korea appears to be suffering from a relatively simple distributed denial-of-service attack that is causing temporary Internet outages, said Dan Holden, director of security research for Arbor Networks Inc., based in Burlington, Massachusetts.

Such attacks flood Internet servers with traffic to knock infrastructure offline. In North Korea’s case, the attack appears to be aimed at the country’s domain-name service system, preventing websites from being able to resolve Internet addresses, Holden said.

It’s unlikely the attack is being carried out by the U.S., as any hacker could probably spend $200 to do it, Holden said.

“If the U.S. government was going to do something, it would not be so blatant and it would be way worse,” he said. “This could just be someone in the U.S. who is ticked off because they’re unable to see the movie.”

Limited Impact

The small number of computers connecting North Korea to the Internet makes disabling them straightforward, said Jose Nazario, chief scientist at Invincea Inc., a Fairfax, Virginia-based security-software company.

“It’s actually pretty easy,” he said. “There are only a handful of hosts. It’s relatively easy to attack just those hosts or the pipes that are present there. There’s not that much bandwidth there. It’s very, very accessible to anyone who wanted to attack them.”

The impact of the outages will probably be limited, because so few people in North Korea have access to the Internet, and North Korea uses outposts in other countries to perform cyber-attacks, Nazario said.

“It may not interfere with any cyber-operations they have going on,” he said. “It’s probably more symbolic and patting yourself on the back to launch these kinds of attacks than to disrupt any of their cyber-activities.”

Preliminary Probe

China has started an investigation into a possible North Korean role in the Sony hacking following a request from the U.S. government, a person with direct knowledge of the matter has said. The foreign ministry will cooperate with other Chinese agencies including the Cyberspace Administration to conduct a preliminary investigation, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the probe hasn’t been made public.

“We have no new information regarding North Korea today,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan wrote in an e-mail today. “If in fact North Korea’s Internet has gone down, we’d refer you to that government for comment.”

North Korea’s Internet outage was earlier reported by the North Korea Tech blog.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jordan Robertson in Washington at jrobertson40@bloomberg.net; Chris Strohm in Washington at cstrohm1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Reed Stevenson at rstevenson15@bloomberg.net Andy Sharp, Neil Western


FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Insincere; Top Communist says government not serious about talking peace  By Alvin T. Guanzon | Dec. 28, 2014 at 12:01am


Jorge Madlos, spokesman of the National Democratic Front and top leader of the New People’s Army in Mindanao. Bobby Lagsa

MARIHATAG, Surigao del Sur – The top communist rebel leader in Mindanao doubted the government’s sincerity in seeking an end to the country’s 46-year Maoist insurgency and is not hoping to see a happy end to the peace talks in his lifetime.

Speaking with reporters during the 46th anniversary rites of the Communist Party of the Philippines in Barangay San Isidro here, the 66-year-old Jorge Madlos said he supports the resumption of the peace talks between the National Democratic Front but the government has proven to be insincere in the past.

“We will continue to show interest in the peace talks,” he said, adding that the New People’s Army released several captive soldiers and policemen on Friday to show its goodwill in reopening peace negotiations that stalled three years ago.

Jorge Madlos, spokesman of the National Democratic Front and top leader of the New People’s Army in Mindanao. Bobby Lagsa “These are confidence-building measures and we hope they also show signs of sincerity,” said Madlos, also known as “Ka Oris” who is now the most wanted communist leader in the country with a bounty of P5.6 million after the arrest in Cebu of CPP chairman Benito Tiamzon last March.

But Madlos, who is the NDF spokesman for Mindanao as well as the highest-ranking NPA leader in the area, said the NPA will continue to launch offensives against the government until it addresses the social and economic roots of the communist insurgency in the country.

“The advance of the armed struggle does not necessarily depend on the peace talks. With or without peace talks, the armed struggle advances,” Madlos said, challenging the government to show sincerity should peace negotiations resume.

“The difficult situations in addressing the conflict are the reasons why both parties should pursue it,” said the ailing Madlos, who was reported by the military as having been bed-ridden last September.

Reporting on NPA achievements to thousands of CPP supporters, Madlos said the revolutionary movement is still expanding and gaining strength at least in Mindanao.

“In armed struggle, we have maintained the 46 guerrilla fronts despite the relentless fascist attacks by the AFP which has now more than 55 infantry battalions engaged in counter-revolutionary suppression campaigns in Mindanao. Not one front was destroyed,” Madlos said from a make-shift stage.

“The tactical offensives by the NPA totaled to more than 300 and confiscated hundreds of firearms of various types and inflicted casualties of more than a battalion of regular enemy troops and paramilitary forces while the NPA suffered casualties of a few Red fighters,” Madlos said.

The CPP anniversary rites were attended by thousands of people despite the blockade the military set up on roads leading to Barangay San Isidro.

Among the people who came was former agrarian reform secretary Hernani Braganza who met with key CPP and NPA officials, including NDF peace negotiator Fidel Agcaoili.

AFP spokesman Col Restituto Padilla said Braganza was provided a military escort on his way to Barangay San Isidro early Friday evening

But other participants were not so lucky and soldiers belonging to 2nd Scout Ranger Company of the 401st Infantry Battalion blocked convoys enroute to the gathering.

Among the blocked parties was that of Surigao del Sur Vice Governor Manuel Alameda and Bayan Muna Party Rep. Carlos Zarate who waited for hours.

Soldiers hiding their name tags, but led by a certain Sgt. Alvarez, blocked Alameda’s convoy at Sitio Mabong, which was already in Barangay San Isidro.

The blockade caused monstrous a traffic jam at the barangay road people continued to flock to join the CPP celebration.

Even nuns from the Missionary Sisters of Mary and other religious orders, Aglipayan priests and bishops and Protestant pastors were seen in the area.

Heated arguments ensued as soldiers prevented people from proceeding.

“We came here for the peace consultation because the provincial government of Surigao del Sur wanted peaceful resolution of this long overdue peace problem due growing insurgency issues in our province and here you are blocking us?.” Vice Governor Alameda said.


FROM THE INQUIRER

Joma Sison looks forward to meet with Aquino Allan Nawal, Frinston Lim, Nikko Dizon | Inquirer Mindanao Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:02 AM | Sunday, December 28th, 2014


Communist Party of the Philippines founding chair Jose Ma. Sison. FILE PHOTO

President Benigno Aquino III to jump-start peace talks with the government, a confidence-building measure reminiscent of the Chief Executive’s secret meeting with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief Murad Ebrahim.

“My meeting with the President can still happen if there is already a substantive agreement or if the meeting can be inspiring, as a confidence-building measure,” Sison told the Inquirer in a message late Friday afternoon.

Asked if the “friends” of both parties mentioned by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Deles in a statement were working toward his meeting with Mr. Aquino, Sison said, “Yes.”

He said the meeting with Mr. Aquino to discuss the peace negotiations could happen if “there is new substantive agreement or if the booster is needed at a certain point.”

Sought for comment on the possibility of an Aquino-Sison meeting, Deles told the Inquirer in a text message: “There are unlimited possibilities once peace talks are seriously on course.”

The idea of having a meeting between the President and Sison was initially hatched in 2012, after the successful meeting of the Chief Executive with Murad in August 2011 in Tokyo.

It was a secret meeting, which was ultimately described by the MILF as a “great leap forward” in resuming the then stalled peace negotiations between the government and the then Moro secessionist group.

While exactly not smooth sailing after the Aquino-Murad meeting, the peace talks between the two parties led to a peace agreement that was signed in March.

The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, which will give flesh to the autonomy yearned for by the Bangsamoro people, is now awaiting passage in Congress.

By contrast, the planned meeting between Mr. Aquino and Sison has yet to materialize.

Llamas proposal

Sison on Friday recalled that Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Ronald Llamas proposed the Aquino-Sison meeting in October 2012, and described it as a “historic meeting.”

Sison said his meeting with Mr. Aquino was tentatively scheduled for April 2013 in Hanoi, but the Amsterdam talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the CPP’s political arm, broke down in February 2013.

“Pero sayang hindi natuloy (Unfortunately, it did not push through),” he said of his planned meeting with the President.

In an e-mail to the Inquirer in June 2013, Sison said “P-Noy has no reason to fear meeting with NDFP representatives directly and personally.”

The government and the NDFP have on-and-off talks over the past three decades, as both parties face differences in ideologies and difficulties in maintaining a truce.

More than 40,000 Filipinos have been killed in the communist insurgency that is one of the longest-running in the world.

Talks after papal visit

As the CPP marked its 46th anniversary on Friday, the Utrecht-based Sison announced that the stalled negotiations could resume in the second week of next month, after the Jan. 15-19 visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines.

In a goodwill gesture amid a Christmas ceasefire, the New People’s Army (NPA), armed wing of the CPP, released on Friday two soldiers held captive for four months in Bukidnon province.

Three more soldiers would be freed by January, according to NDFP spokesperson Jorge Madlos.

Warden in NPA custody

The NPA unit operating in the Davao provinces has admitted that it has in its custody the provincial jail warden of Compostela Valley, who disappeared on Dec. 23 after being forcibly taken by armed men from Panabo City.

Aris Francisco, NPA spokesperson for Compostela Valley, Davao provinces and Agusan, said warden Jose Mervin Coquilla was “arrested outside his house” and would be subjected to “an investigation.”

He was initially taken with his wife Lijobeth, who was freed later.

Francisco said on Friday the NPA decided to take Coquilla into custody “to determine his individual culpability with respect to the complaints lodged against him before the People’s Democratic Government by jail inmates and their families.”

Drug trade in jail

Among the complaints against Coquilla, he said, were “willful negligence in the supervision of inmates and his direct and indirect, overt and covert participation in drug trade and drug use inside the Compostela Valley jail.”

“Coquilla has allegedly siphoned off funds, which are already slashed by high officials of the ruling state prison. According to the complaints received by the NPA, Coquilla’s corruption has resulted in the inadequate medical and health-care and food provision for inmates,” Francisco said in an e-mailed statement on Friday.

He said Coquilla also tolerated the physical abuse of prisoners by jail guards.

Francisco said the jail warden also turned a blind eye to inmates caught using illegal drugs and to jail guards involved in ferreting out drugs inside the prison cells.

“While currently undergoing investigation for his possible involvement in these acts, Coquilla is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt, and as such, is being treated leniently and humanely by the NPA custodial force, for as long as guerrilla conditions warrant,” Francisco said.

Swap

Chief Insp. Levitico Estay, Davao del Norte police spokesperson, said the NPA initially wanted Coquilla to be swapped for a comrade detained at the Compostela Valley provincial rehabilitation in Mankilam village in Tagum City.

Quoting Coquilla’s wife, Estay said the abductors allegedly told her before setting her free that the warden would be freed only if one of their comrades at the provincial jail would be released.

But Estay would not name the person the rebels wanted to swap for Coquilla.

Managed by the provincial government, the jail shares space with the Davao del Norte Provincial Rehabilitation Center in a sprawling prison complex in Barangay Mankilam in Tagum. It holds several guerrilla inmates.

Gov. Arturo Uy urged the rebels to free Coquilla “in the spirit of Christmas.”


 FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Pope Benedict and his 2 major contributions by Ellson Quismorio December 28, 2014 Share this:

Getting sandwiched between two charismatic Pontiffs hardly did any favors to Pope Benedict XVI in the realm of public relations, but an Argentine priest based in the Philippines believes that this often underappreciated Vatican leader deserves a lot of thanks and praise.

Father Luciano Felloni of Our Lady of Lourdes in Camarin, Caloocan City, speaks highly of Pope Benedict, noting that “Papa Ratzi” (a wordplay of the Pope’s real name, Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger) has two significant contributions to the Catholic Church and by extension, the laity.

“Tignan mo si Pope Benedict na halos hindi pinapasalamatan ng tao, may dalawang bagay siyang ginawa na very important (Pope Benedict, who is almost not thanked by the people, did two very important things),” said the Tagalog-speaking Parish priest.

Ratzinger, 87, of Germany, was elected to the papacy on April 19, 2005 following the death of his close personal friend, the much-beloved Pope John Paul II.

Benedict led the Church quietly until his resignation on Feb. 28, 2013, paving the way for His Holiness, Pope Francis, who has captivated the world thanks to his transformational leadership.

Benedict was given the title Pope Emeritus after his resignation, an act that paved the way for future popes to follow his lead.

HEAD-ON VS. SEX SCANDALS

Felloni, 41, said that it was Pope Benedict who displayed a hardnosed commitment in pursuing the sexual abuse cases involving members of the clergy.

“Una, siya ang humarap sa issue ng pedophilia ng mga pari nang harap-harapan, walang patago-tago at walang paliko-liko. Siya naglagay ng patakaran na one strike and you are out of your priesthood at yung obispo mo mismo ang maghahatid sa police (First, he was the one who faced the issue of pedophilia among priests in a straight, uncompromising manner. He enforced the one-strike-and-you-are-out of your priesthood role and the bishops themselves would turn you over to the police),” he said.

As far as these rather embarrassing cases of sexual abuse on children are concerned, the Caloocan parish priest said Benedict handled them “in a very transparent manner.”

One particular sexual abuse case that Ratzinger pursued for nearly a decade until its resolution was the one concerning Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legion of Christ. Failing to get concrete action done against the Mexican priest during his time as cardinal, Ratzinger authorized an investigation after he ascended to the papacy leading to Degollado’s ouster from the service.

RESIGNATION SET AN EXAMPLE

Felloni said that Pope Benedict’s second major contribution — one that could yet redefine his legacy — is the fact that he resigned. According to the Argentine priest, this sets an example of humility to future Pontiffs, beginning with his compatriot Pope Francis.

“Malaking bagay for the Church (His resignation is a huge thing for the Church),” Felloni underscored.

“Kasi dati ang Santo Papa may aura na untouchable, too powerful. Parang sobra ang kinataas. At sa pag-amin niya na matanda nako, mahina na ako, hindi ko na kaya, malaking epekto sa mundo (Back then, Popes had an aura of being untouchable, too powerful. As if he is unreachable. For Benedict to admit that he is too old, weak and not capable anymore will have a huge effect on the world),” he explained.

Pope Benedict cited “lack of strength of mind and body” as well as his old age when he first announced his intention to resign in a speech before cardinals on February 11, 2013. While Benedict was not the first Pope to resign, he was the first Pontiff to do so in modern times (The last to resign was Pope Gregory XII in 1415).

Felloni believes that Benedict’s gesture would — and should — be emulated by his successors.

“I think they would follow, hindi lang si Pope Francis, kapag matanda na sila, magre-resign na sila (when they are old, they will resign). And that’s good. Hindi sila ang Diyos, malinaw yun. (They are not God, that is clear),” he stressed.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE