PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

U.N. VERY CONCERNED: 120,000 FLEE MINDANAO FIGHTING


PHOTO NEWSCOOP COURTESY OF INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS--- Manila (ICRC) – Thousands of people have fled their homes as fighting between government security forces and armed groups escalates in Maguindanao province, in central Mindanao. The number of displaced people is rising.The covered court in Pagalungan municipal grounds in Maguindanao is filled with displaced families from Barangays Kalbugan and Buliok who fled at the start of hostilities between armed groups. They do not know when they can return. CC BY-NC-ND/ICRC/L. de la Cruz   More than 120,000 people have fled their homes in Mindanao since fighting broke out between government troops and Islamic militants in late January, the UN refugee agency said.  “UNHCR is concerned about the safety of civilians as the conflict spreads into local villages,” Babar Baloch, spokesperson of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees told reporters in Geneva.  The Armed Forces of the Philippines launched an offensive earlier this year against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a rebel group fighting for an independent Muslim homeland in Mindanao in the immediate aftermath of the January 25 Mamasapano incident where 44 policemen were killed. Last week, the military claimed that one-third of the supposedly 300-strong BIFF have been “wiped out” in the ongoing military offensive in Mindanao.  President Benigno Aquino 3rd had ordered the military to hunt down remaining members and leaders of the bandit group, including five international terrorists whom they are reportedly coddling. Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. last Monday said the President has approved a P67-million initial fund for development projects in the South as soon as the BIFF is decimated. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Military sees new phase; UN High Commission on Refugees concerned about civilian safety


Displaced. Mothers and children gather to avail themselves of the food and medical assistance brought in by the ARMM government at an evacuation site in Barangay Libutan, Mamasapano, Maguindanao as the military intensifies its ‘law enforcement operations” against the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. Omar Mangorsi  THE military may end clearing operations against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters next week after the United Nations High Commission on Refugees expressed alarm that more than 120,000 people have been displaced by fighting in Mindanao since January.  “UNHCR is concerned about the safety of civilians as the conflict spreads into local villages,” spokesman Babar Baloch told reporters in Geneva, Switzerland.  Humanitarian agencies, including UNHCR, in Mindanao are working closely with the local authorities to monitor the conditions of displaced people inside and outside the shelters.  “We have provided some blankets, jerry cans, sleeping mats, mosquito nets and plastic sheets, but more aid is needed urgently,” Mr. Baloch said.  “It is unclear how long or widely the ongoing law and order operation will extend and this is hindering the safe and dignified return of the displaced people,” he said. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: AFP to suspend offensive vs BIFF for 3 days to assist security of schools during  graduation ceremonies
[Military operations against the BIFF have already displaced 24,714 families or 123,537 individuals as of this week. The conflict has now escalated to 15 towns in Maguindanao, prompting the provincial government to declare a state of calamity. Nine schools currently host thousands of displaced families, serving as evacuation centers]


Philippine Army Armed Forces of the Philippines File photo MANILA, Philippines - The military will suspend its operations against the separatist Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao to enable the holding of graduation ceremonies. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it would assist local officials in the holding of graduation ceremonies by securing the schools and prevent possible attacks from the BIFF. AFP chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. expressed support for the move of the military units in the area to coordinate with local officials in securing the graduation ceremonies. “In his directive, the AFP chief of staff yesterday ordered 6th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan to facilitate the safe conduct of graduation ceremonies for the schoolchildren and high school students in Maguindanao,” AFP Public Affairs Office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said. READ MORE...

ALSO: MILF camp now abandoned, but intact - Army commander


Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) soldier 
MANILA, Philippines - The newly discovered training camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) located in the hinterlands of Iligan City has been abandoned but its facilities are still intact, an Army commander said yesterday. “It’s now abandoned. There’s no occupant at the said place for now,” said Col. Gilbert Gapay, commander of the Army’s 2nd Mechanized Brigade based in Iligan City. Gapay’s unit responded to the complaints of tribesmen in the area regarding the presence of armed men roaming around their communities. Gapay endorsed the complaint to the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) after learning that the MILF had set up a training camp in the area. He said the training facility was not among several MILF camps recognized under the peace agreement. Gapay said he could only assume that the facility, being maintained as reported by the MILF’s 103rd Base Command under Commander Abdul Sango Amoran, is currently unoccupied . Gapay reiterated that reporting the existence and the immediate dismantling of the MILF training camp is in accordance with the existing peace process and ceasefire agreement between the government and the MILF. READ MORE...

ALSO by Alejandro Del Rosario: PHL’s richest, poorest


Even as Forbes Magazine listed an elite class of Filipino businessmen among the world’s billionaires, the New York-based publication also came out with an indicting report on why a quarter of the country’s 100 million population still live in grinding poverty. The magazine juxtaposed clusters of high rise condos dominating the Makati central business district skyline and the reality on the ground where pockets of impoverished families live hidden from view. The reasons cited by Forbes is that while the economy continues to grow, most of the investments made by big business are in shopping malls and condominium towers instead of in job-generating industries like railroads, shipping ports and electric power generation. Unemployment remained at 7 percent which would have risen to unmanageable levels had millions of Filipinos not left to work overseas.

Call centers and the foreign currency remittances by some 2 million Overseas Filipino Workers mostly in the Middle East prop up the Philippine economy, but they do not result in inclusive growth to sustain a meaningful middle class. Then too, business outsourcing and labor exporting could have a shelf life as they depend on the health of other countries’ economies. News of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew’s failing health comes at a time when the Philippines is facing a presidential election next year without any clear choices as to who will and can lead the country. Lee, the founding father of Singapore who guided his country from a backwater economy to a vibrant world class nation, is 90 years old and in critical condition. Prime Minister Mahathir of Malaysia, although not as popular as Lee, steered his country and left a stable state to succeeding leaders. Sadly, we are a nation bereft of true leaders. We are cursed by a turnstile succession of leaders without any legacy or vision for the country’s future. Why is President Aquino, whose popularity rating plunged from 70 percent to 36 percent, hated by so many? READ MORE...

ALSO: Manila Bay’s tides are increasing, scientists warn


Children take a dip in Manila Bay waters Uploaded on 10:40AM
Residents, including young children, troop to Manila Baywalk along Roxas Boulevard to take a dip in Manila Bay waters to beat the summer heat on Sunday March 22, 2015. Danny Pata 
A new study reveals that Manila Bay's tides have changed significantly since monitoring started in the 1980s, with an over 1 mm increase per year in average high water and over 5 mm per year in greater diurnal tidal range (GDTR). This may not seem like much, but it will influence life along the coastline through factors such as access to ports, where buildings can be constructed, and distribution of species.  Manila Bay is just one of the many sites around the world included in the study where tides have changed. The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Southampton and published in the journal Earth's Future. Global concern READ MORE...

ALSO: 44 Visayan lawmakers to block BBL passage


 Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez  The leadership of the Visayan bloc in the House of Representatives yesterday said they will not support the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in its current form.Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez said the ad hoc committee should first assure the constitution-ality of the measure that will create a Bang-samoro Juridical entity before putting it into vote.Benitez said the Department of Justice (DoJ) for the executive side “should come up with firm statement whether all the provisions conform with the Constitution.”
“My personal view is who among the executive branch would have the most capability to decide which is unconstitutional, which is not? DOJ?” said Benitez. The solon called on the proponents of the BBL to consider all consequences especially if they approve a watered down version of the measure or pass a more acceptable one for both the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) but is unconstitutional.Benitez said the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) can’t answer which part of the BBL is considered unconstitutional since they believed that all of those included in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) should be applied in passing the measure.
The Visayan bloc is composed of 42 lawmakers from the Visayas Region and as well as from some Visayan-speaking areas in Mindanao.“The bloc actually decided that there should be more consultations with the members. Whatever decision will be made, that would be promulgated,” said Benitez. Meanwhile, the government will launch a massive and intense information and education campaign to convince more Filipinos, especially the high number of the undecided, to understand and support the BBL. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO STANDARD EDITORIAL: Babying the President


THE BABY PRESIDENT  Police Director Benjamin Magalong, Senator Grace Poe and their colleagues who stand by their respective reports on the Mamasapano tragedy deserve our commendation. 
In this government where people’s feelings are easily hurt and leaders take professional criticism as a personal affront, it takes gumption to tell no less than the President of the country that he bears responsibility for the police operation that killed a Malaysian terrorist but also claimed the lives of 44 policemen from the Special Action Force. Specifically, the reports said Mr. Aquino broke the chain of command of the PNP by dealing directly with former SAF commander Getulio Napenas and by allowing his friend Alan Purisima to participate in the operation despite his suspension by the Office of the Ombudsman on charges of graft and corruption. Eighteen fighters from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and five civilians were also killed during the Jan. 25 encounter. Magalong and Poe are not known critics of President Aquino. In fact, Magalong is one of those in the running to be named chief of the Philippine National Police. Poe, for her part, ran under the banner of the Liberal Party – chaired by Mr. Aquino himself – in the 2013 senatorial elections where she emerged first, surprising many. In some way, their career fortunes would be influenced on whether or not they keep the President happy. CONTINUE READING...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

UN: 120,000 flee Mindanao fighting

MANILA, MARCH 23, 2015 (MANILA TIMES) March 21, 2015 9:49 pm by AFP WITH FERNAN MARASIGAN


PHOTO NEWSCOOP COURTESY OF INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS--- Manila (ICRC) – Thousands of people have fled their homes as fighting between government security forces and armed groups escalates in Maguindanao province, in central Mindanao. The number of displaced people is rising.The covered court in Pagalungan municipal grounds in Maguindanao is filled with displaced families from Barangays Kalbugan and Buliok who fled at the start of hostilities between armed groups. They do not know when they can return. CC BY-NC-ND/ICRC/L. de la Cruz

More than 120,000 people have fled their homes in Mindanao since fighting broke out between government troops and Islamic militants in late January, the UN refugee agency said.

“UNHCR is concerned about the safety of civilians as the conflict spreads into local villages,” Babar Baloch, spokesperson of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees told reporters in Geneva.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines launched an offensive earlier this year against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a rebel group fighting for an independent Muslim homeland in Mindanao in the immediate aftermath of the January 25 Mamasapano incident where 44 policemen were killed.

Last week, the military claimed that one-third of the supposedly 300-strong BIFF have been “wiped out” in the ongoing military offensive in Mindanao.

President Benigno Aquino 3rd had ordered the military to hunt down remaining members and leaders of the bandit group, including five international terrorists whom they are reportedly coddling.

Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. last Monday said the President has approved a P67-million initial fund for development projects in the South as soon as the BIFF is decimated.

CONTINUE READING...
“[The President’s order was] to hunt down all the BIFF [rebels]. So as of now, [100 of them have been accounted for, so there are more of them out there]. Of course, the high-value terrorists, we are still running after them, we will continue the operation],” the military chief said.

The ongoing offensive, including attacks with artillery and helicopter gunships, has taken place in poor farming areas.

Baloch said an estimated 13 municipalities in Maguindanao and North Cotabato had been affected by the eight weeks of clashes.

More than 120,000 had been displaced and sought shelter in schools, public buildings and madrasas (Islamic schools), he said.

But he acknowledged, “the estimated number of displaced could be higher, since it does not include people hosted by relatives and friends.”

Baloch also warned that the numbers were “expected to grow as the fighting extends to the local communities … already hosting many of the displaced.”

The volatile security situation is meanwhile blocking UNHCR from accessing many of the affected areas, he said.

UNHCR expressed particular concern for the safety of civilians, including women and children, stuck in the conflict area.

While civilians did not seem to be targeted directly, they were getting caught in the crossfire, Baloch told the French news agency, Agence France Presse.

“Women and children could potentially be exposed to exploitation and abuse,” he warned, pointing out that many found themselves without income or community protection, and with very limited access to shelter, food, medicine and water.

“UNHCR appeals to all parties of the conflict to ensure the safety of civilians while the law and order operation is underway,” he said.


MANILA STANDARD

Military sees new phase; UN High Commission on Refugees concerned about civilian safety in Mindanao all-out-war By AFP | Mar. 22, 2015 at 12:01am


Displaced. Mothers and children gather to avail themselves of the food and medical assistance brought in by the ARMM government at an evacuation site in Barangay Libutan, Mamasapano, Maguindanao as the military intensifies its ‘law enforcement operations” against the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. Omar Mangorsi

THE military may end clearing operations against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters next week after the United Nations High Commission on Refugees expressed alarm that more than 120,000 people have been displaced by fighting in Mindanao since January.

“UNHCR is concerned about the safety of civilians as the conflict spreads into local villages,” spokesman Babar Baloch told reporters in Geneva, Switzerland.

Humanitarian agencies, including UNHCR, in Mindanao are working closely with the local authorities to monitor the conditions of displaced people inside and outside the shelters.

“We have provided some blankets, jerry cans, sleeping mats, mosquito nets and plastic sheets, but more aid is needed urgently,” Mr. Baloch said.

“It is unclear how long or widely the ongoing law and order operation will extend and this is hindering the safe and dignified return of the displaced people,” he said.

CONTINUE READING...
He went on to say that “women and children could potentially be exposed to exploitation and abuse, given their lack of income and community protection. The limited provision of food, medicine, water and temporary shelter could exacerbate these vulnerabilities.”

The Philippines military launched an offensive earlier this year against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, an extremist break-away group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The offensive, including attacks with artillery and helicopter gunships, has taken place in poor farming areas on Mindanao island, where Muslim rebels have for decades fought for independence.

Baloch said an estimated 13 municipalities in Maguindanao and North Cotabato had been affected by the eight weeks of clashes.

More than 120,000 had been displaced and sought shelter in schools, public buildings and madrasas, he said.

But he acknowledged, “the estimated number of displaced could be higher, since it does not include people hosted by relatives and friends.”

Baloch also warned that the numbers were “expected to grow as the fighting extends to the local communities ... already hosting many of the displaced.”

The volatile security situation is meanwhile blocking UNHCR from accessing many of the affected areas, he said.

UNHCR expressed particular concern for the safety of civilians, including women and children, stuck in the conflict area.


Children play cards to while away time at another evacuation center in Barangay Tambunan II, Guindulungan, Maguindanao.

While civilians did not seem to be targeted directly, they were getting caught in the crossfire, Baloch told AFP.

“Women and children could potentially be exposed to exploitation and abuse,” he warned, pointing out that many found themselves without income or community protection, and with very limited access to shelter, food, medicine and water.

“UNHCR appeals to all parties of the conflict to ensure the safety of civilians while the law and order operation is underway,” he said.

Armed Forces spokeperson Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala did not mention the report of the UN refugee agency that held a media briefing on Friday, but noted that 139 BIFF members and six government troops have been killed in the fighting.

“Maybe next week, we will start the holding operations,” Kakilala said, explaining that troops will have to make sure battle areas are safe enough for residents to return to their homes.

He said the Joint Task Force Central Mindanao, which is in charge of the operation, has captured three major and five minor BIFF camps in an operation to capture suspected bomb-maker Abdul Basit Usman.

Meanwhile, Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Mendoza said her province remained on high alert and military operations are beginning to take its toll on the provincial government’s peace and development programs.

Mendoza said security forces have maintained a high level of alertness even with the arrest of Mohammad Ali Tambako, former BIFF vice chairman, and the death of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan.

“They have trained many bombers, so we remain on alert,” Mendoza said. “Terrorism by these groups hinder our peace and development efforts, the trained bombers are still out there so we remain on alert.”


PHILSTAR

AFP to suspend offensive vs BIFF for 3 days to assist security of schools during graduation ceremonies  By Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 22, 2015 - 12:00am


Philippine Army Armed Forces of the Philippines File photo

MANILA, Philippines - The military will suspend its operations against the separatist Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao to enable the holding of graduation ceremonies.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it would assist local officials in the holding of graduation ceremonies by securing the schools and prevent possible attacks from the BIFF.

AFP chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. expressed support for the move of the military units in the area to coordinate with local officials in securing the graduation ceremonies.

“In his directive, the AFP chief of staff yesterday ordered 6th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan to facilitate the safe conduct of graduation ceremonies for the schoolchildren and high school students in Maguindanao,” AFP Public Affairs Office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said.

READ MORE...
The military was asked to suspend all operations against the BIFF for three days from March 25 to 27 to allow the graduation rites of elementary and high school students from 39 schools that have been closed since Feb. 28 offensive against BIFF.

Cabunoc said the AFP leadership is fully supportive of the call to suspend its military operations but stressed law enforcement operations will continue to ensure the safety of the graduating school children and the general public.

“We would like to see schoolchildren flocking to schools in pursuit of education and better lives. We are delighted to see them finish school and receive their diplomas and recognition,” Cabunoc said.

In three days within the areas considered as conflict zone in Maguindanao, government troops will be deployed to secure the sites where graduation ceremonies would be held.

In other threatened areas, the graduation ceremonies will be moved and merged to other schools in safer areas.

“For example, in a barangay bordering a conflict area, graduation rites from the said place will be moved to a conflict-free and a more secured community,” Cabunoc said.

The Department of Education in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said there would be no cancellation of graduation ceremonies in schools in Maguindanao amid the escalating military operations in the province.

DepEd-ARMM regional director Bai Taya Aplal said graduation rites for students in conflict-affected schools will be clustered and arranged in a safe location nearest their schools.

The military offensive against the BIFF came followed the killing of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) policemen in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25.

The BIFF was believed to be behind the killing of the 44 policemen who were on a mission to capture terrorists hiding in a remote village in Mamasapano.

Military operations against the BIFF have already displaced 24,714 families or 123,537 individuals as of this week.

The conflict has now escalated to 15 towns in Maguindanao, prompting the provincial government to declare a state of calamity.

Nine schools currently host thousands of displaced families, serving as evacuation centers.

“For these affected schools, our alternative is to cluster their graduation and conduct it in the nearby schools not affected by the armed conflict,” Aplal said.

“We know that the presence of evacuees will affect the graduation rites, thus we are recommending the construction of temporary structure for their ceremony,” she said.

Aplal said schools that are being used as evacuation centers will still hold graduation rites, even if it may require the construction of temporary platforms.

Classes in 63 elementary and secondary schools in Maguindanao have to be suspended due to the military offensive, affecting a total of 23,681 students and teachers.

Aplal described the disruption of classes as an affront to education in the region.

On the other hand, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed concern for people displaced by the military operation against the rebels.

“The UNHCR appeals to all parties of the conflict to ensure the safety of civilians while the law and order operation is underway,” agency spokesman Babar Baloch said at a press briefing in Geneva.

Baloch said an estimated 120,000 displaced people are now sheltering in schools, public buildings and madrasas, adding that the estimate does not include people hosted by relatives and friends.

“The numbers are expected to grow as the fighting extends to the local communities that are already hosting many of the displaced,” he stressed.

Baloch said UNHCR cannot access many of the affected areas and relies on information provided by local authorities, civil society organizations and partners.

Humanitarian agencies, including UNHCR, in Mindanao are working closely with the local officials to monitor the conditions of displaced people inside and outside the shelters.

“We have provided some blankets, jerry cans, sleeping mats, mosquito nets and plastic sheets, but more aid is needed urgently,” Baloch said.

“UNHCR is particularly concerned about the safety of civilians, including women and children who are caught up in the conflict areas,” he said.

“It is unclear how long or wide the ongoing law and order operation will extend and this is hindering the safe and dignified return of the displaced people.” – With Edith Regalado, Pia Lee-Brago


PHILSTAR

MILF camp now abandoned, but intact --- Army commander By Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 22, 2015 - 12:00am


Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) soldier

MANILA, Philippines - The newly discovered training camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) located in the hinterlands of Iligan City has been abandoned but its facilities are still intact, an Army commander said yesterday.

“It’s now abandoned. There’s no occupant at the said place for now,” said Col. Gilbert Gapay, commander of the Army’s 2nd Mechanized Brigade based in Iligan City.

Gapay’s unit responded to the complaints of tribesmen in the area regarding the presence of armed men roaming around their communities.

Gapay endorsed the complaint to the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) after learning that the MILF had set up a training camp in the area.

He said the training facility was not among several MILF camps recognized under the peace agreement.

Gapay said he could only assume that the facility, being maintained as reported by the MILF’s 103rd Base Command under Commander Abdul Sango Amoran, is currently unoccupied .

Gapay reiterated that reporting the existence and the immediate dismantling of the MILF training camp is in accordance with the existing peace process and ceasefire agreement between the government and the MILF.

READ MORE...
While the government has recognized areas and camps controlled by the MILF, the rebel group has agreed not to put up additional camps in other areas as part of the ongoing peace efforts to deescalate the conflict in Mindanao.

“I have coordinated this matter with Brig. Gen. Carlito Galvez, our CCCH head, and a joint inspection team is now being formed to verify and inspect the area soon,” Gapay said.

Gapay and his men took photographs of the training facility.

Higaonon tribal leader Deodado Abugan Sr. earlier filed the complaint before the Iligan City peace and order council, showing photos of the training camp with white stone markers laid out the ground in an open clearing welcoming guests to the MILF’s 103rd Base Command.

Aside from obstacle courses, a makeshift guardhouse and a pile of wooden rifles being used for training, the troops also obtained a sample of the ID cards identifying the occupants of the area as belonging to the 305th Unit Guerilla Operation of the MILF’s 103rd Base Command, North-Eastern Mindanao Front, Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF).

The ID read “305th Unit, Guerrilla Operation, Taguloan, Amai Pak-Pak Province.”

Gapay said they have gathered that two batches of recruits composed of 80 and 72 recruits, mostly non-Muslim indigenous people, including the Higaonons, the tribesmen residing in the area, have already completed their military training supervised by the MILF at the camp.

There were reports that the supposed MILF guerrilla unit had promised five hectares of land to each recruit once the Bangsamoro Basic Law is passed.

The report added that each recruit was required to pay P800 before he can undergo the military training at the camp.

Located near the boundary of Lanao del Sur where the MILF has two huge camps in Butig town – Camp Bila and Camp Bushra – the training camp can only be reached via Cagayan de Oro City, then through Bukidnon on the Palacat route and not directly from Iligan City.

Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, Armed Forces of the Philippines-Public Affairs Office chief, said a Joint Site Verification Mission was created with members of the joint ceasefire committee, the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG), and the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT), along with local officials and tribal leaders.

Cabunoc said the people behind these activities are only fooling the indigenous people because in the first place the land in the area is part of the ancestral domain of the Higaonon tribe.


MANILA STANDARD by Alejandro Del Rosario

PHL’s richest, poorest By Alejandro Del Rosario | Mar. 21, 2015 at 12:01am

Even as Forbes Magazine listed an elite class of Filipino businessmen among the world’s billionaires, the New York-based publication also came out with an indicting report on why a quarter of the country’s 100 million population still live in grinding poverty.

The magazine juxtaposed clusters of high rise condos dominating the Makati central business district skyline and the reality on the ground where pockets of impoverished families live hidden from view.

The reasons cited by Forbes is that while the economy continues to grow, most of the investments made by big business are in shopping malls and condominium towers instead of in job-generating industries like railroads, shipping ports and electric power generation. Unemployment remained at 7 percent which would have risen to unmanageable levels had millions of Filipinos not left to work overseas.

Call centers and the foreign currency remittances by some 2 million Overseas Filipino Workers mostly in the Middle East prop up the Philippine economy, but they do not result in inclusive growth to sustain a meaningful middle class. Then too, business outsourcing and labor exporting could have a shelf life as they depend on the health of other countries’ economies.

News of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew’s failing health comes at a time when the Philippines is facing a presidential election next year without any clear choices as to who will and can lead the country. Lee, the founding father of Singapore who guided his country from a backwater economy to a vibrant world class nation, is 90 years old and in critical condition. Prime Minister Mahathir of Malaysia, although not as popular as Lee, steered his country and left a stable state to succeeding leaders.

Sadly, we are a nation bereft of true leaders. We are cursed by a turnstile succession of leaders without any legacy or vision for the country’s future.

Why is President Aquino, whose popularity rating plunged from 70 percent to 36 percent, hated by so many?

READ MORE...
A recent Pulse Asia survey shows that one in four Filipinos dislikes Aquino. The same survey also reported that eight out of 10 Filipinos found the President’s explanation of his role in the bungled Mamasapano police operation unsatisfactory.

That speaks volumes about the President’s governance and how he relates to the people. Aquino’s lack of humility to acknowledge mistakes and his dogged loyalty to friends and allies have not endeared him to a wide segment of the public who would like to see a president of all the people.

The Mamasapano, Maguindanao police raid that left 44 PNP Special Action Force commandos dead is the latest stain on the President who is leaving office on June 30, 2016.

The incident was further tweaked when Aquino failed to attend the arrival honors for the Fallen 44’s remains at the Villamor Air Base. Acting on a twisted sense of priorities, the President went instead to the inauguration of the Mitsubishi car plant in Sta.Rosa, Laguna.

Still unresolved are issues involving the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program and the Priority Development Assistance Fund which, although ruled as illegal by the Supreme Court, continues to be dispensed as pork barrel in other forms.

A lack of compassion and the reluctance to say sorry for the tragic outcome of the Mamasapano police operation stoked the smoldering resentment the people for the President. A police Board of Inquiry and a Senate investigation report found President Aquino ultimately responsible for his key role in the PNP-SAF mission when he allowed suspended PNP chief Alan Purisima to execute the plan.

The Senate joint committee on public order and security chaired by Senator Grace Poe also held responsible Purisima and SAF ground commander Gen.Getulio Napenas answerable for the ill-fated mission to get international terrorist Marwan and local explosive expert Usman.

Best advice to Pacquiao

Freddie Roach, the trainer of Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, gave this advice to his ward for the May 2 megabuck welterweight fight with Floyd Mayweather:

Don’t rely on God, He has better things to do,” Freddie told Manny, adding an expletive-laced one liner that “God doesn’t give a f..k who wins this fight.”

Roach is concerned Paquiao’s Bible preaching distractions might sidetrack him from the business at hand-- which is primarily to rearrange Mayweather’s facial features and hand Floyd the first blemish in his undefeated ring record.

If at all, Roach reminded Pacquiao to forget his compassion about hurting his opponents and to unleash his old killer instinct. Manny has not scored a knockout or stoppage since 2009 when he TKO’d Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto in the 12th round.

Mayweather is 37 years old and Pacquiao pushing 36.

The “fight of the century” could well end up as a bout between two spent fighters with diminished skills. But I would still watch it on pay-per-view to see which fighter has enough gas left in his tank.


GMA NEWS NETWORK

Manila Bay’s tides are increasing, scientists warn By MACY AÑONUEVOMarch 16, 2015 6:58pm


Children take a dip in Manila Bay waters Uploaded on 10:40AM
Residents, including young children, troop to Manila Baywalk along Roxas Boulevard to take a dip in Manila Bay waters to beat the summer heat on Sunday March 22, 2015. Danny Pata

A new study reveals that Manila Bay's tides have changed significantly since monitoring started in the 1980s, with an over 1 mm increase per year in average high water and over 5 mm per year in greater diurnal tidal range (GDTR).

This may not seem like much, but it will influence life along the coastline through factors such as access to ports, where buildings can be constructed, and distribution of species.

Manila Bay is just one of the many sites around the world included in the study where tides have changed. The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Southampton and published in the journal Earth's Future.

Global concern

READ MORE...
Tides were previously considered to be relatively constant over time and were not expected to change over the next 100 years as the astronomical forces that generate them are virtually constant. However, analysis of sea level data from 220 tide gauge sites around the world, with some data spanning over 100 years, showed that changes in tides are occurring worldwide. Some sites have tidal changes comparable to changes in mean sea level (MSL) due to sea level rise. But while the changes are global, the researchers did not find a global pattern.

“The magnitude and global distribution of changes in tides have been hinted at before,” said study co-author Ivan Haigh. “However, here we have been able to assess changes in different tidal levels, which are used for many practical applications. Tides exert a major influence on the coast, affecting coastal flooding and erosion, navigation, tidal energy extraction, sediment movement and the extent of species in coastal ecosystems. Therefore, the changes we have identified have wider ranging practical and scientific implications, particularly if they increase in the future.”

Climate change

Says co-author Neil Wells, “The cause of these changes is complex and appears to be a combination of mechanisms from local to global, with the primary driver being the rise in sea level associated with climate change. Further research is required to more fully understand the mechanisms causing these changes and to understand how tides might further change in the future.” — TJD, GMA News

Macy Añonuevo earned her MS Marine Science degree from the University of the Philippines. She is a published science and travel writer and was a finalist in the 2013 World Responsible Tourism Awards under the Best Photography for Responsible Tourism category. Her writings and photographs may be found at www.theislandergirl.com.


TRIBUNE

44 Visayan lawmakers to block BBL passage Written by Tribune Wires
Sunday, 22 March 2015 00:00


 Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez

The leadership of the Visayan bloc in the House of Representatives yesterday said they will not support the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in its current form.

Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez said the ad hoc committee should first assure the constitution-ality of the measure that will create a Bang-samoro Juridical entity before putting it into vote.

Benitez said the Department of Justice (DoJ) for the executive side “should come up with firm statement whether all the provisions conform with the Constitution.”

“My personal view is who among the executive branch would have the most capability to decide which is unconstitutional, which is not? DOJ?” said Benitez.

The solon called on the proponents of the BBL to consider all consequences especially if they approve a watered down version of the measure or pass a more acceptable one for both the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) but is unconstitutional.

Benitez said the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) can’t answer which part of the BBL is considered unconstitutional since they believed that all of those included in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) should be applied in passing the measure.

The Visayan bloc is composed of 42 lawmakers from the Visayas Region and as well as from some Visayan-speaking areas in Mindanao.

“The bloc actually decided that there should be more consultations with the members. Whatever decision will be made, that would be promulgated,” said Benitez.

Meanwhile, the government will launch a massive and intense information and education campaign to convince more Filipinos, especially the high number of the undecided, to understand and support the BBL.

CONTINUE READING...
Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles, presidential adviser on the Peace Process, said that while 44 percent of Filipinos in a recent Pulse Asia survey said they disagreed with the BBL, a high percentage—36 percent—also said they are undecided on their position in the survey conducted by polling firm Pulse Asia from March 1-7 among 1,200 respondents nationwide.

“It means that many have not made up their minds and would benefit from an intensified information, education, and communications program (IEC) on the BBL,” Deles explained.

She said an intense information blitz may also sway part of the 44 percent to support the draft law.
“I wonder how many of them have read the BBL,” asked Deles when asked to comment on the survey result that 44 percent of Filipinos disagree with the passage of the BBL.

“Knowing that many of them most likely lack information or are misinformed, then we still have a chance to significantly decrease that number with an IEC on BBL,” she said.

“No doubt about it, the 44% also reflects the result of the serious misinformation which has been spread regarding the BBL,” she added.

“Too much misinformation was spread. Wrong information on the peace process, the negotiating panels, and of course on the BBL, so we already expected that there will be a higher number on those who will disagree,” Deles said.

In the weeks following the tragic results of a law enforcement operation by the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last Jan. 25, 2015, that left at least 67 dead, the peace process being pursued by the Aquino Administration with the MILF came under heavy criticism.

The peace adviser said the Jan. 25 incident left the nation reeling.

“It was a very difficult time for the country, with the grief that we all felt over the deaths of so many in one incident. And it provided the much-awaited opportunity for many to pursue their interests against the BBL or the Aquino Administration, political or otherwise,” she said.

The peace adviser pointed out that although the difference between those who agreed, 21 percent, and those who disagreed, 44 percent, to the passage of BBL is significant, the numbers still offer hope for the peace process, especially the 36 percent who remain undecided.

Deles said she believes many who disagreed with the BBL will change their minds and support the Bangsamoro if they are to know and understand the BBL and the good it will bring to fellow Filipinos and the country.

“Filipinos are naturally kind-hearted and like helping other people. As long as we know it is right, we will help the downtrodden and the needy,” she said.

“Making our people see the truth from the many lies that have been told about the peace process is a challenge that we are confident we will overcome. If we were able to successfully achieve a high 88 percent awareness on the BBL before the Mamasapano incident happened, we will certainly work hard to achieve as much, if not more, than that with a well-informed public who support the BBL,” Deles said.

Deles said this can also be true of the 62 percent from Mindanao who disagree with the passage of the BBL.

“I think that fear borne out of misinformation has something to do with it. Even before the Mamasapano incident, there were already rumors being spread around of prohibitions against certain practices of Christians, etc., that will be imposed, or that the take-over by the MILF of local government rule once the Bangsamoro is established. These are falsehoods that our people are working hard to correct,” she said.

The peace adviser also said the number does not reflect the true sentiments of the Bangsamoro who comprise approximately 18 percent only of the 17.8 million population of the whole Mindanao region.

“The voices of communities who are most affected by the ravages of conflict remain strong in their call for peace,” Deles added.

OPAPP also assured the Senate they will provide the upper chamber with the copy of MILF’s report on Mamasapano incident.

Yesterday, the Senate adopted Senate Resolution No 1240 filed by Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. last March 16 which directs the government peace panel to ask for a copy of the MILF’s investigation report.

In its official website, the OPAPP posted, “We confirm that we received the letter of Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. to OPAPP yesterday, advising us of the joint hearing of the Committee on Local Government and Committee on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation on April 13 to discuss the GPH (Government of the Philippines)-MILF ceasefire mechanisms,” Director Polly Michelle Cunanan of the OPAPP Bangsamoro Communications Team said.

The MILF earlier said they will give the International Monitoring Team (IMT) its probe report on Mamasapano encounter.

The IMT is a third party monitoring body comprised of different states which include Malaysia, Norway, Indonesia, Brunei and Japan that observes the implementation of ceasefire between the MILF and the Philippine government.


MANILA STANDARD EDITORIAL

Babying the President By Manila Standard Today | Mar. 21, 2015 at 12:01am


BABY PRESIDENT

Police Director Benjamin Magalong, Senator Grace Poe and their colleagues who stand by their respective reports on the Mamasapano tragedy deserve our commendation.

In this government where people’s feelings are easily hurt and leaders take professional criticism as a personal affront, it takes gumption to tell no less than the President of the country that he bears responsibility for the police operation that killed a Malaysian terrorist but also claimed the lives of 44 policemen from the Special Action Force.

Specifically, the reports said Mr. Aquino broke the chain of command of the PNP by dealing directly with former SAF commander Getulio Napenas and by allowing his friend Alan Purisima to participate in the operation despite his suspension by the Office of the Ombudsman on charges of graft and corruption.

Eighteen fighters from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and five civilians were also killed during the Jan. 25 encounter.

Magalong and Poe are not known critics of President Aquino. In fact, Magalong is one of those in the running to be named chief of the Philippine National Police. Poe, for her part, ran under the banner of the Liberal Party – chaired by Mr. Aquino himself – in the 2013 senatorial elections where she emerged first, surprising many. In some way, their career fortunes would be influenced on whether or not they keep the President happy.

CONTINUE READING...
Mr. Aquino was certainly not happy with the reports. Earlier this week, Magalong was summoned to the Palace presumably to discuss with the President the contents of the Board of Inquiry’s Mamasapano Report.

While Magalong said the meeting was professional, he also described the President as “visibly hurt.”

Poor Mr. Aquino. This he gets, after vigorously defending himself, saying he was not to blame for the policemen’s deaths, on numerous occasions. On one such occasion, attended by religious leaders Mr. Aquino handpicked to pray over him, the President pinned the blame solely on Napenas who, he said made a fool out of him.

Curiously, Mr. Aquino was silent about what his friend and loyal ally Purisima was doing getting involved in a crucial police operation.

Presidential apologists cannot be faulted for trying hard to kiss away Mr. Aquino’s hurt feelings and defend the indefensible. It’s their job. Spokesman Edwin Lacierda says there was nothing wrong with the President’s turning off his phone while he slept.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima insists that the principle of chain of command does not apply to the PNP because the organization is civilian in nature.

While deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte acknowledges that the President may be held responsible, she is adamant that he did not violate any laws and hence, there is nothing to apologize for.

Astoundingly, too, Secretary of the Interior Manuel Roxas is taking the blame for the President’s not being interviewed by the PNP Board of Inquiry for its report.

The pitiful excuse is that Magalong coursed his invitation to interview the President through Roxas – but the latter was so swamped with work that he forgot.

Can we ever really forgive these Palace officials for trying to turn us into fools?

If the President really wanted to cooperate with the BOI as it was piecing together its report, he could have called them and told them whatever he wanted to say. He did not have to wait for an official invitation coursed through any of his legmen.

If Mr. Aquino had spoken to the investigating body, then he would have had no excuse to get “hurt” by the BOI’s findings.

Our President is a grown man. When he applied for – and got the part of – of chief executive, he should have been ready for anything, including humbling himself at appropriate times, facing his critics, and apologizing for mistakes while vowing to do better.

Then again, we remember that even his candidacy in 2010 was not a mature, deliberate decision.

Small wonder then that his group of caregivers are doing everything to coddle this boy of a president and make sure no harm comes to him.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE