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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Lolo nagpatiwakal sa sariling libingan

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Mistulang hinanap ng isang retiradong navy si Kamatayan matapos itong magbaril sa sarili sa lupa na kanyang binili sa isang pribadong memorial park sa Zamboanga City.

Kinilala ng pulisya ang nagpatiwakal na si Benedicto Rara Remigio, 71, at natibo ng Cebu, ngunit dito naninirahan sa Zamboanga. Nagtungo umano ito sa Forest Lake sa Barangay Tumaga at nagtanong sa mga staff doon kung saan lugar ang lupang nabili at nais nitong makita.

Matapos na samahan at ituro ng isang staff ang lupa ni Remigio ay iniwan na umano itong nagsosolo doon. Ilang minuto lamang ay nakarinig na ng 2 putok ng baril ang mga staff ng Forest Lake at tumambad sa kanila ang duguang dibdib ni Remigio.  Natagpuan rin sa lugar ang isang .22-caliber pistol sa tabi ng bangkay ng matanda.

Dalawang beses umanong binaril ni Remigio ang sarili dahil hindi ito napuruhan sa unang putok. Nabawi rin sa kanya ang isang pouch na naglalaman ng suicide note, ayon pa sa pulisya, ngunit hindi naman ito isina-publiko ng awtoridad.  Wala rin pahayag ang pamilya ni Remigio sa kagimbal-gimbal na ginawa nito sa kanyang sarili.(Mindanao Examiner)

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Sayyaf, nalambat sa Zambo

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Hawak ngayon ng pulisya ang isa umanong Abu Sayyaf matapos itong madakip sa Zamboanga City sa magulang rehiyon ng Mindanao.

Kinumpirma ito ni Chief Inspector Helen Galvez, ang tagapagsalita ng regional police office, at kinilala nito ang suspek na si Puyat Saiyadi, 45. Nalambat ito sa Plaza Pershing na ilang bloke lamang ang layo mula sa City Hall.

Nahaharap sa mga kasong kidnapping si Saiyadi at may maraming arrest warrant mula kay Judge Leo Jay Principe ng Isabela City sa lalawigan ng Basilan. Patuloy naman ang imbestigasyon ng pulisya sa suspek upang alamin kung ang plano ng Abu Sayyaf sa Zamboanga at bakit ito narito.

Hindi pa mabatid kung may mga kasamahan si Saiyadi na nasa Zamboanga rin. Palaisipan pa rin kung paanong nakapuslit si Saiyadi sa operasyon ng militar sa Basilan, isa sa 5 lalawigan ng Muslim autonomous region. At kung paano itong nakalusot sa mga sundalo at parak na nagbabantay sa pier ng Basilan at Zamboanga. (Mindanao Examiner)


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Dalagita, ni-rape ng matandang lalaki

PAGADIAN CITY – Isang matandang binata ang dinakip ng pulisya matapos na diumano’y gahasain nito ang isang dalagita sa bayan ng Jose Dalman sa Zamboanga del Norte province sa Mindanao.

Nakilala ang suspek na si Benedicto Bolivar Bantaya, 62, na itinuturong lumapastangan sa 13-anyos na biktima sa naturang lugar. Nadakip si Bantaya matapos na humingi ng saklolo sa pulisya ang dalagita.

Sinabi ng biktima na ginahasa umano siya ni Bantaya kamakalawa. Nahaharap sa kasong kriminal ang suspek na ngayon ay nakapiit sa himpilan ng pulisya sa nasabing bayan.

Hindi naman nagbigay ng anumang pahayag si Bantaya sa akusasyong ibinato sa kanya ng dalagita na ngayon ay nasa superbisyon ng mga social workers. (Mindanao Examiner)


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Goodbye BBL, Hello Federalism

COTABATO CITY – For the third time around, majority Christian lawmakers in the House of Representatives are expected to reject the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL being pushed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which signed an interim peace deal with Manila in 2014.
Instead of BBL, lawmakers are now pushing for a federal form of government and President Rodrigo Duterte is also strongly advocating the shift to federalism, an advocacy he made even before when he was the mayor of Davao City.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque also said Duterte’s priority now is to change the form of current government and this can only be achieved through amendments in the Constitution which lawmakers are currently working on.
There was also a proposal to hold a plebiscite next year in time for the mid-term elections for Filipinos to decide whether to accept or reject federalism. But there are also many lawmakers who wanted to cling to power and extend their term of office until 2022 when voters would have to choose their leaders in national elections.
BBL
Duterte has previously backed the BBL and expressed optimism that the draft law will pass the scrutiny of Congress that previously opposed it – during Arroyo and Aquino’s presidency.

But Duterte himself has been campaigning for BBL and federalism even before he won the presidency in 2016. And his political allies in Congress are supporting the proposed shift from the current presidential system to federalism, and not the BBL.

The MILF, whose ageing leaders, called for the passage of BBL may be overridden by Duterte’s plans to grant regions autonomy through federalism. It said the administration of Duterte should immediately work for the passage of the BBL where the Aquino government left off. It stressed that the negotiation is completed following the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the MILF and government peace panels.

Politicians questioning the BBL said the provisions in the draft law remain the same.  Zamboanga City Representative Celso Lobregat, who was one of those who opposed the BBL during the Aquino administration citing unconstitutional provisions in the draft law, is again raising the same issue.

Unconstitutional

In a previous statement, Lobregat made it clear, he will be vigilant and consistent with his stand with regards to the BBL. “I am for peace, I am not anti-peace, but we need a Bangsamoro Basic Law that is just, that is fair, that is acceptable, feasible and more importantly, it should not be contrary to the Constitution and existing laws,” he said.

He said the BBL which the Bangsamoro Transition Commission submitted to Duterte still contains the same and even more contentious and questionable provisions. “Among the contentious provisions in the present version of the BBL is that there will be six plebiscites - one for ratification of the law, and second the periodic plebiscite every 5 years for a period of 25 years in the cities, municipalities and other geographic areas outside the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao which did not join the Bangsamoro after the ratification of the BBL,” Lobregat said.

Lobregat, who was also former mayor of Zamboanga City, said Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) was the predecessor of the old BBL filed during the previous 16th Congress. The MOA-AD was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2008 describing the process that led to its crafting as “whimsical, capricious, oppressive, arbitrary and despotic.”

He said the MOA-AD and the BBL have similar provisions, with some unconstitutional and controversial provisions. “Instead of promoting peace, there will be a constant tug of war on the political boundaries that will promote instability. The Bangsamoro will try to expand its area of jurisdiction and in turn, the local government adjacent, surrounding or neighboring the Bangsamoro will also fight tooth and nail in order to retain their territory,” Lobregat said.

Lobregat said he will again be active and vigilant in the committee deliberations, plenary debates and caucuses to ensure that the interest of Zamboanga City and the rest of Mindanao are protected.

Davao del Norte Representative and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Duterte’s ally in the lower chamber, said the country’s push for federalism has almost the same concept of the BBL.

“The BBL will be absorbed by the federal form of government, because that’s the same. The concept of BBL is the same in federal form of government,” he said, suggesting an amendment in the Constitution. “How can you implement the provisions of the BBL without amending the Constitution? You cannot do it because there are provisions in the BBL that run contrary to the provisions of the Constitution,” said Alvarez.

MILF's rival group, the Moro National Liberation Front under Nur Misuari, has strongly opposed the government peace talks with the MILF, citing a 1996 peace accord with Manila.

And Misuari, who eventually became government of the Muslim autonomous region, is now facing rebellion charges for deadly attacks in Sulu's Jolo town and in Zamboanga City in 2001; and another raid in 2013 in retaliation to government's failure to fully comply with the peace agreement.

Under the accord, Manila would have provided a mini-marshal plan in the restive region and livelihood and housing facilities for thousands of MNLF rebels. Misuari, a close friend and political ally of Duterte, also wanted to become a perpetual regional governor. He is also being accused of graft and corruption with cases dating back during his time as governor, but Duterte ordered authorities not to arrest Misuari because of the peace process.

Strong BBL support

Murad Ebrahim, the MILF chairman, said Duterte has voiced his support for the BBL, which will set a precedent for a federal model to be pushed out across the country. He previously said that the MILF will not settle for anything other than the BBL.
The MILF said the people of Mindanao, not just the Bangsamoro, are looking forward that the BBL to ultimately pass and become a law. “The signal is very positive and encouraging now that the President has announced his certification of the proposed bill to Congress as an urgent measure,” it said, adding, the BTC which drafted the original BBL, proceeded with legal and meticulous care to conform to the mandate of the 1987 Constitution.

Defending the provisions in the BBL, the MILF cited Article 10, Sections 15 and 18 of the Constitution, which state that the autonomous Bangsamoro entity may define the basic structure of government, provided it is democratic, and consonant with its distinctive historical and cultural heritage.

The BTC, which originally had 15 members both from the MILF and the government, was expanded to 21 members after Duterte signed an executive order in November last year to review the provisions of the BBL. The MILF said the BTC sought the opinions of the 18 members of the original framers of the Constitution - Father Joaquin Bernas, former Chief Justice Hilarion Davide, former Commission on Elections Chairman Christian Monsod, Supreme Court Justice Adolfo Azcuna, among others, who all stated that the BBL is constitutional and can stand charter challenge.

“Furthermore, it must be emphasized that the BBL is not an ordinary bill that should be subjected to the plain letter of the Constitution, but it is an organic act to create a Bangsamoro entity which would reach far beyond the wisdom of our framers when they drafted Article 10 of our present Constitution—the wise men who were desirous and had the vision to solve the centuries of nagging problems that caused enormous suffering and death, as well as, to support the proposed measures for lasting peace and comprehensive development throughout the whole region and ultimately the nation at large,” the MILF, the country’s largest rebel group, said.

It said never has a piece of legislation been proposed to the two Houses of Congress that has been consulted so extensively throughout Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon to ensure that the people were properly apprised of the significance and importance of the proposed bill. It said more than 600 dialogues, symposia, open forums have been conducted by the BTC and the committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate, together with the involvement of nongovernmental organizations.

The MILF said the proposed law can be a potent and substantive demonstration of the cooperation and collaboration between the government and the Bangsamoro people to forge a lasting peace and to ensure the progress on political, social, cultural and economic development, and the preservation of national integrity. “With the current rise of extremism in Mindanao in recent months, there is a most urgent need to constrain its escalation and tragic effects. The BBL can and will be an instrument of peace and national unity, and a landmark legislation to arrest the rising tide of violent extremism and radicalism not only in Mindanao, but in this country, as well,” it said.

The BBL aims to expand the Muslim autonomous region – which comprises of Basilan, Sulu, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Tawi-Tawi provinces – but their governors were not even included in the BTC or consulted by the body. And public consultations by the government on the BBL in the provinces came late and was more of a show rather than get inputs from various sectors and Muslims themselves.

And the ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman, a known political ally of then President Benigno Aquino Jr, who appointed him as acting governor prior to winning the elections, said he is supporting the BBL. “We are for the passage of BBL as we underscore the need for a Bangsamoro that is stronger than the ARMM, a new government that will bring our people a life of greater opportunities and deliver the promises of a lasting peace,” he said.

Many Muslims do not even know the BBL or its provisions, except that majority of them wanted an independent Bangsamoro nation and the return of their ancestral lands now in the hands of wealthy Christian landowners and businessmen. Islam reached the country in the 14th century and eventually spread in other parts of the Philippines. Mindanao was formerly under the rule of the sultans. (Mindanao Examiner)

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

'Freedom and Crime' - Letters From Davao by Jun Ledesma

Freedom and Crime

AM NOT SURPRISED when some quarters are exploiting to the hilt the order of the Securities and Exchange Commission to shut down the operations of Rappler.The bannered story warns of the muzzling of the press. Rappler itself, quoting Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, wrote that if Duterte wants to close the media establishment they could have just sent the military. Of course it is the usual Rappler's furtive way of saying it which is very characteristic of this media outfit. 

But this is not about press freedom. It is about media ownership which, under Philippine laws, should be 100% owned by Filipinos. For years since the inception of Rappler, the impression was that it is fully owned by Pinoys. There are Filipinos  with extra money to spare who invested money in Rappler in the hope that they can support an independent media outfit. As every body knew, the big media establishments are tools used by the wealthy and famous to protect their interest from political predators but they end up using the muscle of the press to either promote or destroy politicians and their adversaries. 

Not until SEC ordered the closure of Rappler that it came out in the open that  the notorious ON OMIDYAR had wormed its way in and into the heart and brain of Rappler. The characters behind these outfits are shrewd but not wise enough their own disclosures in their PDRs gave them away. The Philippine Deposit Receipts which Rappler through its holding company issued explicitly granted ON OMIDYAR to have a say in the operations and business of Rappler. 

Ma. Ressa's attention was called by SEC on this critical item but it appears that she was not paying attention or might have thought she can deal with the problem anyway.  Looks like she sat on the problem that even the  members of the 5-man Commission who, except for one,  are all appointees of ex-Pres. Noynoy Aquino have reach a point of decision. 

As the story unravels, again it showed that there was an attempt to correct the provisions in the PDRs by submitting ON OMIDYAR's waiver on its right to intrude into the conduct of business of Rappler. Again Rappler showed its cavalier attitude, it submitted the waiver document which was not even notarized.  Obviously even the Aquino-controlled SEC cannot take the lackadaisical attention of Ma. Ressa. It revoked the SEC registration of Rappler. 

Even as it had been axed, Ressa and Pia Ranada fought back, the later calling Pres. Rodrigo Duterte names as if they reign supreme and they alone know what freedom of the press means. To add to her dramatics Pia intoned  that she is prepared to go to prison for exercising her rights of free expression. She forgot that It was Duterte who, early in his presidency signed an EO on Freedom of Information. 

Ressa and Ranada wailed their press freedom had been curtailed. But such is not the case. Every word that they say saw print and broadcasted in nearly 2,000 media outlets in the Philippines and not counting the social media. The revocation of Rappler's permit is not about freedom of the press but its violation of the constitution which succinctly underlines that media establishment must be 100% Filipino owned.  

In hindsight the Duterte government was even too kind to Rappler even as it was the leading media organization that demonize Duterte in every turn. I had seriously doubted its overtures that brag it stands for truth and fairness. During the senate hearing on extra-judicial killing allegedly carried out by the Davao Death Squad which Sen. Leila De Lima and Sen. Antonio Trillanes claimed was organized by Duterte, Rappler simply swallowed what witnesses Matobato and Lascanas said. 

In 2009 when as CHR Chair De Lima conducted a probe on EJK the number of victims she alleged then was less than 300. The probe lasted for months with nary a piece of evidence was found to indict Mayor Duterte. She pursued her quest to pin Digong when she became Justice Secretary but again she failed. When she became senator she became even more aggressive she placed a bungling Matobato in the witness stand. But Matobato was flawless in his delivery when he was interviewed by Time Magazine. It was unmistakable he was reading from an idiot's card. He proudly state that as member of DDS he killed and buried more than 200 persons in an abandoned quarry. Yet he cannot find the grave of his victims.
   
When it was the turn of Lascanas to testify in the senate inquiry, he casually said that they buried more than 2,000 EJK victims in the same quarry.  Between the two perjured witness they  confessed to the  killing of over 2,200 victims of EJK which they buried, they said, in the abandoned quarry. It is simply a classic fantasy. A manslaughter of such magnitude cannot escape notice especially when that narrow piece of land is just about four kilometers from city hall and so adjacent to a number of housing subdivisions. Nevertheless, if they were so sure then why cannot they find a single piece of viable evidence.  

In all these occasions Rappler gave the hearings liberal space and took the testimonies of the witnesses as the biblical truths. Both Rappler and Time Magazine adopted exactly the same flawed statistics which in their recent count had reached 13,000 EJK victims. I am based in Davao and frankly I am amazed by the courage of Rappler and Time magazine to extrapolate figures for I do not know where they plucked these from. I also am aghast at their courage to perpetuate the lies.

Much of what they wrote about DDS, EJK and curtailment of press freedom are figments of their fertile imagination. DDS for one is a ghost force conceptualized by Police Regional Commander Dionisio Tan-gatue Jr.  This predates Duterte's entry in politics. EJK issue was an invention of the political adversaries of Duterte who were salivating for the mayoral position. In Davao the champion of press freedom or freedom of expression is not from the media but Duterte himself. Time and again, as Mayor, Duterte would prod media men to be critical but speak or write the truth. It is only in Davao City where leftist organizations can stage rallies or demonstrations without permit from city hall. 

Frankly, I find Duterte's tolerance for rabid attack against him quite uncanny. He had been subjected to scurrilous attacks in his 25 years of service as an elected official but I never heard of any single libel suit filed by him against any of his detractors. Rappler, even as it has been ordered  closed by SEC, can go on demonizing Duterte because he is one that protects the freedom of critical or even inventive press but he can do nothing when the act is violative of the basic tenets of the constitution. In or out of Rappler, Ressa can do her thing and so with Pia provided they watch their steps. Press freedom is one thing and an offense that breach the limits of what the constitution mandates is another. 

And please do not drag PAS Bong Go to add spice to your melodrama. The intrigue will not wash. Like me the media persons who write from Davao know Bong's tasks from day one. He is the personified data bank of Duterte. While he has been dubbed as the country's photo bomber his role in the administration is simply benign. (Jun Ledesma)


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