MANILA, OCTOBER 7, 2013 (PHILSTAR) SEARCH FOR TRUTH By Ernesto M. Maceda - After 8 days of overseeing the fighting with the MNLF Misuari forces in Zamboanga, President Aquino returned to Manila, leaving Secretaries Mar Roxas, Voltaire Gazmin, and Dinky Soliman to take care of the remaining operations.

Now comes the bigger job of rehabilitating and reconstructing Zamboanga, including public schools and buildings, and resettling 118,000 evacuees who lost 10,160 houses in the different fires set off by the MNLF and the fighting.

There has been widespread debate as to whether President Aquino should have personally taken control of the Zamboanga operations. We believe he did the right thing.

The MNLF forces that attacked and invaded Zamboanga were following Nur Misuari’s declaration of independence of the whole of Mindanao. That was a declaration of war.

The Zamboanga invasion was no small matter that could be left to cabinet members alone.

While the battle produced more than 130 casualties, more than 200 wounded, and an estimated P6 billion in damage, it was a price to pay to safeguard the independence of the Republic and a direct message to all rebels that the Philippine government will not tolerate any attempt or challenge to the sovereignty of the country.

The 3 Cabinet Secretaries, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the City of Zamboanga, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and various civic volunteer organizations joined hands to take care of the emergency. They did a good job.

Imagine the magnitude of serving 125,000 food packs, 3 times a day. Now comes the harder part of curing the trauma of 800,000 people, the rebuilding of 10,160 homes, the restoring of business establishments, and the reopening of schools.

Charges of rebellion must now be filed against Chairman Nur Misuari, Commander Malik, and all the MNLF forces who took part in the Zamboanga siege.

Peace a long way off

There’s no peace in Mindanao as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and New People’s Army (NPA) rebels mounted attacks in Kidapawan, North Cotabato, and Balingasag, Misamis Oriental.

150 BIFF fighters attacked Midsayap, North Cotabato and took pupils and teachers hostage from the Malinao Elementary School.

18th, 19th, 20th blasts happened in Zamboanga City. The 18th was the explosion of an improvised explosive device (IED) in a bus, killing 3. The 19th saw the explosion of an IED in a vacant lot, while the 20th destroyed a house in Tetuan, killing one woman.

Yes, it’s a long way to peace in Mindanao as the NPA killed 3 militiamen men and 1 soldier, when NPA rebels attacked their military outpost in Sitio Lantad, Barangay Kibanban, Misamis Oriental.

After PDAF and Malampaya

A 3rd batch of 3 senators and 32 congressmen have devoted a total of P470.75 million to the Philippine Forest Corporation (Philforest), the major part of which was supposed to fund the establishment of Jatropha plantations.

This was reported by Undersecretary Annaliza Rebuelta-Teh, OIC of Philforest, who confirmed that this new batch of lawmakers’ allocation was released during 2010-2012, using 11 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as the ultimate recipient of funds.

The following congressmen allegedly funneled their PDAF to Philforest from 2011 to 2012:

Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas – P15 million, P5 M, P4 M; Misamis Oriental Rep. Peter Unabia – P1.71 M; Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali – P5 M, P10 M, P15 M; Negros Occidental Rep. Jose Carlos Lacson – P10 M; Basilan Rep. Hadjiman Hataman Saliman – P11 M; Agusan del Norte Rep. Potenciano Payuyo – P5 M; Misamis Oriental Rep. Salvador Cabaluna III – P15 M, P7.5 M; Basilan Rep. Michael Angelo Rivera – P15 M, P7.5 M; Bukidnon Rep. Jesus Emmanuel Paras – P5 M; Northern Samar Rep. Emilio Ong – P13 M, P10 M;

Masbate Rep. Antonio Kho – P15 M, P15 M; Cagayan de Oro Rep. Benjamin Benaldo – P5 M, P10 M; Basilan Rep. Nicanor Briones – P5 M; Davao Oriental Rep. Nelson Dayanghirang – P4 M; Davao del Sur Rep. Franklin Bautista – P1 M; Agusan del Norte Rep. Jose Aquino – P1 M, P2.425 M; Misamis Oriental Rep. Yevgeny Vicente Emano – P3 M; Davao del Sur Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas – P7 M; Abono partylist Rep. Raymund Estrella – P3 M; North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco – P5 M, P4 M;

Cebu Rep. Ramon Durano VI – P4 M, P5 M; Oriental Mindoro Rep. Rodolfo Valencia – P3 M, P2 M; Rizal Rep. Joel Roy Duavit – P10 M; Zamboanga City Rep. Ma. Isabel Climaco – P4 M; Ang Kasangga party-list Rep. Teodorico Haresco – P1.5 M; Lanao del Norte Rep. Fatima Dimaporo – P5 M; APEC partylist Rep. Ponciano Payuyo – P2 M; Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tañada – P9.7 M; Misamis Oriental Rep. Isidro Lico – P4.5 M; TUCP partylist Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza – P13 M; Palawan Rep. Antonio Alvarez – P3.880 M; Laguna Rep. Ma. Evita Arago – P5 M.

2 more DA agencies

A recent report showed that PDAF releases have been made to implement projects nominated by lawmakers to 2 more departments of Agriculture agencies.

The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) released P24.8 million to an NGO for use in anti-smuggling operations as found out by the Commission on Audit (COA).

The COA also questioned the use of the National Agricultural and Fishery Council (NAFC) of P116.7 million to various NGOs and people’s organizations for livelihood projects.

Marcos bombshell

Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. exploded his own bombshell ahead of the scheduled privilege speeches of Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla.

Marcos said that Malacañang disbursed P475 million of so-called stimulus funds from the Disbursement Allocation Fund (DAF) to 6 senators to buy their votes to impeach Chief Justice Corona.

The funds were released through the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). The DAF which amounts to P77 billion is another pork barrel of the President. Marcos’ revelation confirms that the President is also guilty of misusing his pork barrel.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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