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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Letters from Davao: Amnesia By Jun Ledesma


THE SEPTEMBER 21st rallies denouncing Marcos decreed Martial Law showed a hodgepodge of recollections from those who played central roles from various ideological persuasions, commentaries, reactions and demonstrations from millennials from vicarious experience drawn from stories from the opposite political poles many of which are laced with distortions, outright lies richly condimented with self-proclaimed heroism and more.

Many of the accounts we hear today are replete with exaggerations and not a few are totally blurred and twisted it can pass of a comedy of errors.

Take the case of canned televised exchanges of Bongbong Marcos and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile. The aging JPE challenges televiewers to come up with names of people who were jailed and tortured during the span of martial law regime. The decree was actually signed on 21st but was implemented nationwide only dawn of the 23rd September. However, many political oppositions among them Ninoy Aquino and journalists like Max Soliven were quietly arrested and detained in Camp Crame immediately after the edict was signed. The entire country was totally placed under martial law on the 23rd.

How can Enrile negate all these? All media establishments were closed and what followed were arrests and detentions of many more personalities on the basis of ASSOs (Arrest, Search and Seizure Orders) implemented by the Philippine Constabulary under the PC Chief Fidel Ramos. Eddie, how could you? The leap you did at EDSA does not erase memories.

On a personal note, I was working with RMN-IBC Davao as program and news director when ML was declared. On the side, I was publishing a weekly community paper - the Davao Chronicle to augment a meager salary from the network. Nearly a week after the closure of dxDC and TV13, these stations were allowed to resume broadcast. A new code of conduct was issued. Wear your ID, appear neat and necktie was to be worn. We marched to the PC barracks for finger-printing and to fill up a brief résumé. I got a permit to resume publication of my newspaper. We all thought that was it.

About 15 days later eight personnel from RMN-IBC were given their walking papers on what Henry Canoy said was an order coming from Camp Crame. The eight included me, our Cebuano newscaster Tinong Alfornon (who cannot even swat a fly) and Bonifacio dela Cruz, an innocent radio technician some disc jockeys and announcers. Sir Henry was crying when he handed us our termination papers. Later, my only source of livelihood, the Davao Chronicle, was also padlocked on orders of Hans Menzi, the Chairman of the Philippine Council for Print Media. Seven months later while I was contemplating of going farming or going to the hills I received a telegram directing me to report back to my work at RMN-IBC. But that was short-lived because the famed crony Roberto Benedicto took over IBC and had us replaced.

That tête-à-tête between Bongbong and Enrile revealed that Manong Johnny is suffering from a serious case of amnesia. From out of the blue, former Sen. Nene Pimentel, who was among the Marcos critics who were incarcerated, took time out from his Federalism campaign and chided Enrile saying the chief enforcer of ML is already aging he had forgotten the events that happened when he lorded it all.

Indeed Nene is correct. In Davao three prominent lawyers were placed behind bar not by the Regional PC but by the Regional Unified Command which was directly under PSG head Gen. Fabian Ver. The three, Antonio Arellano (now member of the ConCom), Marcos “Boy” Risonar who was appointed USec of DAR and Larry Ilagan.

But Senator Nene cannot stop giving counsel to the nation by warning them against the imposition of a revolutionary government which he attributed to Marcos. He (conveniently?) forgot that it was Cory Aquino who established a revolutionary government that led to the closure of the Batasan Pambansa and the declaration of all elective positions nationwide vacant. The revgov led to the withdrawal of support of Doy Laurel from Cory and Nene himself became the fulcrum of power shift in local governments as he held the sole mandate to name who was to be appointed as governor, mayor, councilor, barangay captain and barangay councilman.

What happened to Doy and Cory was the first grand deception among the anti-Marcos cabal. Doy was to be the Prime Minister and Cory the President under the then parliamentary government. The modus vivendi was arrived at because Cory, who knew virtually nothing of governance, even asserted that she is only a transition president. But as the popular saying in those days go: “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. That defined the era of Marcos and Aquino.

It has been nearly half a century, five Presidents had served and the 6th being Rodrigo R. Duterte. Duterte was the first Tanodbayan investigator assigned in Mindanao before becoming Asst. City Fiscal of Davao. While his mother, Soledad (“Nanay Soleng”) was among the pillars of the “Yellow Friday Movement” in Davao that denounced the murder of Ninoy Aquino and the dictatorship regime, Fiscal Duterte was investigating murders committed by the police, NPAs, military, CAFGUs and later by the creeping drug and kidnapping syndicates. Fiscal Duterte never ever dreamed of becoming mayor and not by any tint of his imagination be President but Destiny placed him there.

The Marcos regime elicits different perspective from different places and peoples and political agenda. Now take it from the Mindanao perspective. While personally I was a victim of martial rule, I cannot negate the fact that it was Marcos who build 95% of the irrigation systems in Mindanao, build and upgraded a network of concrete roads in the region, energized 80% of the island and liberated the farmers from the stranglehold of unscrupulous Chinese rice and corn traders. He built the Maharlika Highway and San Juanico Bridge that bridged in part Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. As the American press would describe it in an essay: The golden era of Marcos regime.

You cannot take it away from President Duterte if he sees some positive gains and absorbs lessons in the Marcos government. Unlike other leaders who abhor the idea of having to continue with programs of his or her predecessors, Duterte pursues these with fervor and enthusiasm.

It is unfortunate that some quarters would rather engage in destructive activism like partnering with criminal and terrorist elements to achieve their goals. We have seen how the political opposition were in cahoots with various destabilizing forces to denounce Duterte who was busy inspecting Ompong-ravaged communities, extending assistance and sympathy to the victims. One day he is in the Ilocos, the next day in the abandoned Itogon Mining area in Benguet and the next day in Naga City in Cebu.

He braved the inclement weather, the rigors of travel, the scene of devastation and tragedy while his malefactors, among them Riza Hontivirus, Teddy Casino, Edcel Lagman, detained Leila De Lima, self-detained Antonio Trillanes, (now out on bail) some satanic men in priestly habits, Jose Ma. Sison and Renato Reyes took turns in denouncing President Duterte in local and domestic forums.

Do not forget the atrocities committed by the dictatorship! And yes, we too must not forget the slaughter of prostesting farmers in Plaza Mendiola and those who died in the gates of Hacienda Luisita.

Isn’t it odd that not one group or individual who delivered incendiary speeches in UP and in Luneta ever remembered the manslaughter that happened in Mendiola and Luisita? Amnesia? (Jun Ledesma)


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Kidnappers demand RM4 million for 2 Indonesian fishermen

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Kidnappers of 2 Indonesian fishermen have demanded 4 million ringgit in exchange for the safe release of the hostages, believed to have been taken to the southern Philippines, Malaysian media reported on Wednesday.

Two masked gunmen abducted Usman Yunus, 35, and Samsul Sagunim, 40, on September 11 off Semporna town despite a strict security and sea curfew imposed by Malaysian authorities following persistent threats posed by Abu Sayyaf militants, blamed by Kuala Lumpur and Manila for ransom kidnappings in the past in Sabah.

The attackers, armed with automatic rifles, were speaking in Tausug, a dialect commonly used in Tawi-Tawi and Sulu, according to two other fishermen, who managed to escape the abduction.

The Star quoted Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah as saying the kidnapper phoned one of the victim’s families on September 18 and made the demand. “The wife of one of the victims, who is in Sulawesi, Indonesia, received the call from the Philippines. No deadline has been set so far (for the payment). Maybe negotiations will be carried out between several quarters including the families of the victims,” Omar said during a news conference.

Malaysian newspaper, Daily Express, also reported that the duo had been brought to Talipao town in Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region. It quoted Nicholas Teo, Deputy Director of the Singapore-based Information Sharing Centre of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (Recaap), as the source of its information.

Teo said Recaap had learned the kidnappers and their hostages fled on a speedboat towards Tawi-Tawi in southern Philippines and then headed to Sulu. “Recaap believe their final destination is Talipao in Sulu, an area where the Abu Sayyaf group has previously based its kidnapping-for-ransom operations,” Teo said, citing intelligence from the Philippine Coast Guard.

It also quoted another Malaysian security official, who said the hostages were brought by their abductors in Talipao town. No individual or group claimed responsibility for the abductions, but the Abu Sayyaf had previously kidnapped Indonesian fishermen and sailors off Sabah and ransomed them off to their employers.

Kuala Lumpur has sought Manila’s assistance in recovering Yunus and Sagunim.

The latest kidnappings occurred 3 days after Abu Sayyaf militants freed Indonesian fishermen - Sudarlan Samansung, 41; Hamdam Salim, 34; and Subandi Sattoh, 27; - to the group of former Moro National Liberation Front rebel leader Nur Misuari in Buanza village in Sulu’s Indanan town. 

They were kidnapped in January last year while on a fishing expedition off Tawi-Tawi province.
It was unknown how much ransom was paid to the Abu Sayyaf in exchange for the freedom of the hostages. The Abu Sayyaf also released other Indonesian hostages in the past to Misuari.

A government teacher, Benjamin Ubaid, who was also kidnapped recently in Sulu had been freed, but details of his release remain unclear, although sources in the province said ransom may have been paid to the kidnappers who were suspected to be members of the Abu Sayyaf.

The kidnappers had originally demanded P1.5 million from Ubaid's family, according to sources, however, it was not immediately known whether ransom was paid to buy his freedom. Ubaid was released late Monday. (Mindanao Examiner)


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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

ARMM completes 1,599 kilometers of roads

COTABATO CITY – The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) said it has completed some 1,599 kilometers of roads in five provinces under it from 2012 to 2018.
Data from the Department of Public Works and Highways in ARMM showed 508.685 kms., or 22.075% of the target, are still ongoing as of September 14 this year and that some 183.382 kms., or 7.958%, are yet to be started.

The province of Lanao del Sur received the most number of road projects in the region as it registered a total of 335, followed by Maguindanao with 306, Sulu with 277, and Basilan and Tawi-Tawi with 247 and 173 respectively.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv S. Hataman said these initiatives will make the communities, especially in areas with security problems, feel the presence of the government. The ARMM’s infrastructure program, the governor said, directly promotes peace and development.

He said ARMM constituents will now have easy access to government’s services on transportation, health, trade and industry, agriculture and fishery, tourism, all considered vital in boosting the region’s economy.

The ARMM government has allocated over P35 billion for the implementation of these road projects during the last six years. Many of the road projects are located in conflict-affected and far-flung communities. (Bureau of Public Information)


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Kidnapped Sulu teacher freed

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Abu Sayyaf militants have freed a kidnapped government teacher in the southern Filipino province of Sulu, officials said.
Officials said Shariff Benjamin Asamli Ubaid, who was abducted in the capital town of Jolo on September 22, has been reunited with his family after being freed late Monday. It was unknown whether his family paid ransom or not for his freedom, but sources in Sulu claimed that the kidnappers had demanded P1.5 million ransom.
The kidnapping was reported only on September 24 after militants allegedly used Ubaid’s cell phone to demand the ransom.  It was unclear how the abductors managed to enter Jolo and escaped with their hostage considering the huge presence of soldiers and policemen in the town.
Image may contain: 1 person, eyeglasses and closeup
An undated photo of Shariff Benjamin Asamli Ubaid from his Facebook page.
One the eve of his abduction, Ubaid wrote this on his Facebook account: “Have faith in Allah, everything will be in good hands!”
Police and military authorities did not release any information or reports about the abduction, but the Department of Education in the Muslim autonomous region confirmed this.
The Abu Sayyaf has been largely blamed for many ransom kidnappings in the troubled region of Mindanao. And the abduction occurred while the whole of southern Philippines is under an extended period of martial rule due to threats of terrorism and insurgency. (Mindanao Examiner)

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Duterte visits wounded soldiers in Sulu

ZAMBOANGA CITY – President Rodrigo Duterte visited soldiers wounded in a recent battle with Abu Sayyaf militants in Sulu province in southern Philippines, officials said Tuesday.

Military photo shows President Rodrigo Duterte pinning a medal to one of the wounded soldier recuperating at a hospital in Sulu's capital town of Jolo. 

Officials said Duterte, who was accompanied by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and Armed Forces chief Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr., and Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, of the Western Mindanao Command, distributed medals to 14 soldiers at a military hospital in Jolo town on Monday.

“Fourteen battle casualties of the Joint Task Force Sulu were accorded with the Order of Lapu-Lapu level of Kampilan Medal by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during his visit in Sulu yesterday,” said Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command.

He said the soldiers, who suffered from mostly shrapnel wounds, clashed with some 100 militants under Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron and sub-leaders Hajan Sawadjaan and Idang Susukan on September 14 in Bakong village in Patikul town.

No other details were made available by the military on Duterte's visit, but it previously said that 7 militants had been killed in the fighting, however, families of those slain claimed the victims were all civilians and fruit pickers arrested by soldiers.  (Mindanao Examiner)


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Monday, September 24, 2018

Sayyafs seize Sulu teacher


ZAMBOANGA CITY – Suspected Abu Sayyaf militants reportedly seized a government teacher in Sulu province in southern Philippines, various sources said.

The victim, Shariff Benjamin Asamli Ubaid, was abducted in the capital town of Jolo on Saturday, said one of his friends, who appealed to militants to free their hostage, who is known to be a hardworking teacher.

Image may contain: 1 person, eyeglasses and closeup 
An undated photo of Shariff Benjamin Asamli Ubaid from his Facebook page. 

No other details of the abduction were available, but on the eve of his abduction, Ubaid wrote this on his Facebook account: "Have faith in Allah, everything will be in good hands!"

Police and military authorities did not release any information or reports about the latest abduction. And so is the Department of Education in the Muslim autonomous region.

The motive of the abduction is still unknown, but the Abu Sayyaf has been largely blamed for many ransom kidnappings in the troubled region.

It was unknown if Ubaid’s abductors communicated with his family or education officials, or if ransom has been demanded in exchange for his freedom.

The abduction occurred while the whole of southern Philippines is under an extended period of martial rule due to threats of terrorism and insurgency. (Mindanao Examiner)


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Burglar breaks into Kidapawan home, kills young woman

KIDAPAWAN CITY – A burglar broke into a house in Kidapawan City in southern Philippines and killed a 21-year old woman, police said Monday.

Police said Angelica Luzuriaga was alone in the house at Prk 7 in the village of Lanao at the time of the incident late Friday. She was hacked to death.

Image may contain: 2 people, closeup Angelica Fernandez Luzuriaga. Photo from her Facebook account. 

Her bloodied body was discovered inside her room and it was unknown how many persons attacked the woman. But police said the burglar entered through the back of the house.

It was not immediately known whether the victim was sexually assaulted or not, or what prompted the assailant to kill the woman.

Mayor Joseph Evangelista has offered P100,000 reward for information that could lead to the arrest of the murderer. “Muhatag ko ug reward to anybody who could give information leading to the arrest of the suspects in Angelica Fernandez Luzuriaga case, dead or alive,” he said. (Mindanao Examiner)


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