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Friday, April 29, 2016

Explosion reported in Lamitan City

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Police reported an explosion late Friday in Lamitan City in restive Muslim autonomous region in southern Philippines.
Police said the explosion occurred at a multi cab parked in front of the Evangelical Church in Maligaya village. The area was immediately cordoned off and police said no casualties were reported from the blast.
No other details were made available by the police on the explosion. Lamitan has been bombed many times in the past by the Abu Sayyaf, which is fighting for Islamic caliphate in southern Philippines.
Just last month, an improvised explosive went off at the Dangkalan Elementary School there, although there had been no casualties in the bombing.
An improvised explosive was also detonated at the port area in January and the attack damaged a water tank and windows of the terminal building.
And in October last year, a powerful Abu Sayyaf bomb – made from ammonium nitrate and fuel oil and packed with iron nails, and rigged to a blasting cap and cell phone - was also discovered along Rizal Avenue in downtown Lamitan.
Prior to that, an improvised bomb planted outside the police headquarters in Lamitan City also exploded, although no was injured or killed in the attack blamed to the Abu Sayyaf which pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq of Iraq and Syria. (With a report from Ely Dumaboc)

Philippine troops raid island near Sabah border, rescue 10 people; seized arms cache

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Marines swooped down on an island off the southern Philippine province of Tawi-Tawi near the Sabah border on Friday and recovered an arms cache and also rescued 10 people who were victims of human trafficking, a military spokesman said.  
Captain Roy Trinidad, of the anti-terror Joint Task Group Tawi-Tawi, said the operations involved Fleet Marine units of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao, and is part of the ongoing “Operation Pagbabaybay” targeting kidnap for ransom gangs.
Trinidad said troops also detained a man linked to human trafficking. “The victims of human trafficking were all from Pagadian City,” he told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.
He said the operations led troops to the island called Siluwag where security forces seized two machine guns, 5 automatic rifles, two hand guns and grenade launchers. “This is part of the ongoing Operation Pagbabaybay by Joint Task Group Tawi-Tawi targeting kidnap for ransom gang personalities operating in the area,” Trinidad said.
The military operations coincided with Malaysian proposals for a joint maritime patrols and aerial surveillance with the Philippines and Indonesia in the Sulu Sea at the border of Sabah.
Defense Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein earlier said that Malaysia would tackle the piracy and kidnapping problems in the Sulu Sea with his Filipino counterpart Voltaire Gazmin and Ryamizard Ryacudu, of Indonesia.
The Philippines signed border patrol agreements with both Malaysia and Indonesia in the 1990s. The country - through the Western Mindanao Command and Eastern Mindanao Command - regularly holds separate naval war games every year with Malaysia and Indonesia.
But despite this, Abu Sayyaf rebels have kidnapped Malaysian and Indonesian nationals in Sabah and in the waters of Tawi-Tawi. And since 2000, the Abu Sayyaf intruded into Sabah and kidnapped dozen 21 mostly European hostages in the posh Sipadan resort and ransomed off the victims to Malaysia and Libya.
On March 26, Abu Sayyaf rebels kidnapped 10 Indonesian crew of the tugboat Brahma 12 off Tawi-Tawi and then four more Malaysian crew men of the tugboat MasFive 6 were kidnapped in Sabah’s Semporna district. And recently, four Indonesian crew of tugboat Henry were also kidnapped off Tawi-Tawi near the border.
The Abu Sayyaf has beheaded a Canadian hostage John Ridsdel on April 25 after his family and government failed to pay P300 million ransom. The jihadist group is still holding Dutchman Ewold Horn, who was kidnapped in Tawi-Tawi; Canadian Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad – who were all seized from the posh resort of Samal Island in Davao del Norte province; and Japanese treasure hunter Toshio Ito also known as Katayama Mamaito. (With a report from Ely Dumaboc)

More ‘souls’ baptized by Jesus Miracle Crusade


















Scenes from the 21st anniversary of the influential Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry in Tuguegarao City in Cagayan province in northern Philippines. 

CAGAYAN PROVINCE – Following a successful migration by a number of local personalities to Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry, more and more important people in society continue to embrace the words of God through the promotion of miracles and strong faith of the influential religious in the Philippines.
Among those who were recently baptized by the Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry were Brothers Toto Guzman, who is running for a congressional seat; and Rody de Asis, also a candidate for provincial board, according to Brother Danny Cuarteros.
He said Minister Jun Esguerra and his wife Sister Rachel Almeda-Esguerra were among those who led the baptism of new members in Tuguegarao City. They also gave very strong and emotional testimonies during the service.
“Ating tinatawag ang mga makasalanan, ang mga salot sa lipunan at yun mga may karamdaman, ang maraming mga problema at walang katiyakan sa buhay dahil ang sadya ng ating mahal na Panginoon ay sadyang mabuti, sa totoong Diyos na marunong magpatawad sabi nga bumaba ang mahal na Panginoon dito sa lupa upang iligtas at mamatay para sa atin na makasalanan. Ito ang ebanghelyo na ipinapangaral ng ating mahal na Pastor (Wilde Estrada Almeda) sa atin na kilalanin po natin ang ating pinakamamahal na Panginoon Hesukristo na siyang nagbibigay ng pag-asa sa bawat isa sa atin,” said Brother Esguerra in his impassioned speech.
Sister Rachel also broke down and cried while speaking during the anniversary. She spoke largely on God’s miracles and how it guided “every soul” to salvation and righteous path through the teachings of Jesus Christ. Her heart-rending speech was drowned by cries of “hallelujah, hallelujah” by the faithful crowd.    
Hundreds of faithful members and supporters, including former communist rebels and government soldiers, attended the baptism which coincided with the 21st anniversary of the Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry here.
“Brothers Toto Guzman and Rody de Asis received water baptism in Jesus’ name through the leading prayer of our Beloved and Honorable Evangelist Wilde Estrada Almeda, God's end time prophet,” Brother Cuarteros said.
Evangelist Wilde Estrada Almeda founded the Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry in February 14, 1975 and has since then attracted a huge following – by the hundreds of thousands both from the Philippines and around the world.
And Sister Rachel Almeda-Esguerra is one of his daughters who is actively involved in various church activities just like the other members of the Almeda family, including the only son – Minister Wilde James Almeda, who is based in the United States.
Brother De Asis, who spoke before a huge crowd, said: It’s really a blessing that I joined this congregation...I appeal to all of you, the members of this congregation na piliin po natin ang mga lider na may dakilang layunin at puso na maglingkod sa atin bayan dito sa ating lalawigan ng Cagayan.”
Brother De Guzman, in his speech after the baptism, said: Heto po ako na tao po lamang...kailangan lahat ng mga ginagawa natin ay ibigay po natin para po sa Panginoon. Hindi ko po akalain na ganito po ang aking mararamdaman, nao-overwhelm po ako ng aking emotions kasi nakikita ko po kayong lahat, tinitignan ko kayo bakit ang saya-saya ninyo – iyon pala ang sikreto ninyo.”
“Sa tingin ko po ang kailangan natin maumpisahan ay ang moral at spiritual recovery at iyan po ang number one sa ating agenda na dapat kung gusto natin ng tunay na progreso patungong pagasa, babaguhin natin ang mga ugali ng ating mga lider dahil unang-una sila ang tinitignan natin ehemplo sa ating bayan. Dapat sila ang mag-umpisa at matakot sila sa Diyos upang sa ganoon ay hindi po sila makagawa ng katiwalian sa ating bayan. Kung lahat ng lideres natin ay may takot sa Panginoon wala pong mangyayari na hindi maganda sa ating bayan. Wala po akong masabi sa inyong lahat (sa Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry) kundi ang magpasalamat,” he said.
Brother Cuarteros said the army’s 17th Infantry Battalion under Colonel Jose Real – who is a staunch peace advocate - also provided trucks to ferry church members from Zinundungan Valley. Members of the army unit regularly attend services by the Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry.
“Hallelujah, two military trucks ang ginamit para masakyan ng mga kapatiran galing Zinundungan Valley. They were former New People’s Army members and others were former rebel supporters, and now they are all for peace and all these are because of God’s grace. And as Colonel Real said and I quote – we are all for peace, all for God,” he said.  
Brother Cuarteros also said cited the miraculous power of God after one of their jeep’s which was supposed to ferry church members fell off a roadside and rolled down a slope – but the driver Brother Joey Tarayao were unhurt, although the vehicle was damaged from the accident.
“Nakatulog si Brother Joey sa habang nagmamaneho at nahulog sa bangin ang jeep, ngunit himalang nakaligtas siya at walang galos. Kukunin sana niya ang mga kapatiran sa Ilagan City para sa outreach mission ng ating 21st church anniversary sa Tuguegarao City and through the leading prayer ng ating Beloved and Honorable Evangelist Pastor Wilde Estrada Almeda, the end time prophet of God, iniligtas siya sa tiyak na kamatayan, amen,” narrated Brother Cuarteros.
Just last month, Rodel Dupaya Gerez, a gubernatorial candidate of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan in Cagayan province, also joined the Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry and was baptized along with lawyer Reymund Guzman – who served as provincial board member for three terms and is now running for a council seat in Tuguegarao City under the Liberal Party of President Benigno Aquino.
And also Elmer Maribbay, an instructor at the Cagayan State University; and Jonas Taguiam – who are both running for the city council – joined the Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry and baptized.
The Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry in Cagayan province is active in various crusades in different areas here and nearby provinces and was able to unite the police, military and communist rebels to listen and accept the words of God. (Mindanao Examiner)

Zambo’s First Gentleman finally speaks out - defends self, mayor vs black propaganda

ZAMBOANGA CITY – First gentleman Trifonio Salazar has branded as political propaganda for media mileage the allegations by a mayoralty candidate Mario Yanga who strongly criticised the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) for its alleged failure to detect the entry of Moro rebels in Zamboanga City in 2013.
Yanga also blamed Salazar’s wife, Mayor Beng Climaco, for allegedly failing to properly response to the first few hours of the raids.
“Yanga doesn’t know what he was talking about and all these issues are mere propaganda aimed at putting him in the news since he was always lagging behind political surveys. The poor responses of the constituents on Yanga’s candidacy show the reality on the ground,” Salazar told The Manila Times.
Salazar, who previously headed the NICA, said among the functions of the agency is to collate and make assessment the information gathered by intelligence agencies for the President. He said actionable intelligence are passed on to operating units - the police and military and other law enforcement agencies.
He said it is up to the police chiefs and military commanders or heads of law enforcement agencies on how to deal with the intelligence reports they disseminate.
Salazar said Moro National Liberation Front rebels from Sulu and Basilan provinces, all under the Muslim autonomous region, landed in several villages, including Taluksangay and Arena Blanco, and that a navy patrol boat – aware of intelligence report on the plans of the MNLF to enter Zamboanga - clashed with a group of rebels onboard several motorboats near Rio Hondo.
Yanga, who was then deputy chief of the regional police force, said the rebel siege would not have prolonged if the mayor showed strong leadership in dealing with the situation.
But it was unknown why the regional police force and the army failed to detect the entry of rebels despite a huge number of security personnel in Zamboanga.
Online news website Rappler also quoted Councilor Rogelio Velasco Jr, who said he could not understand how the siege happened to Zamboanga City. “The very ironic question is: How come these things happen in Zamboanga? We have the Western Mindanao Command. We have the regional police command. We have the naval and the air base. These are the questions the people of Zamboanga are asking our authorities.”
Yanga was assigned in Zamboanga’s east coast while security forces were battling rebels in the villages near downtown area, according to Salazar, who was a former decorated army commander.
Salazar said he was guarding the village of Santa Catalina near City Hall together with retired army general Nehemias Pajarito together with village chieftain Jimmy Villaflores, who is now running for a council seat.
He said the mayor was on top of the situation from the start of the siege. “Journalists were there covering the mayor day and night. The mayor showed strong will in dealing with the rebels that’s why we defeated them, captured the raiders and filed criminal charges against them, including Nur Misuari, the leader of the MNLF, who is now wanted by authorities,” Salazar said.
In an interview with Rappler, Climaco said “negotiations were exhausted to the best we can. At the end of the day, what they sought was the return and full implementation of the final peace accord (with the government). It is not within my level as city mayor.”
The report said there was an opportunity to peacefully end the crisis during the early stages of the standoff, but a rebel leader Habier Malik, offered to release all hostages on condition they would be given a safe conduct pass so they could return to the negotiating table.
It further said that Malik wanted to repeat what happened in 2001 years ago when the MNLF pulled the same stunt in Zamboanga City where the rebels were given a safe pass and the public was forced to literally watch the armed raiders walked away — on live TV — in exchange for the release of dozens of hostages.
Salazar said: “What happened in Cabatangan emboldened the MNLF to stage the 2013 because the MNLF considered Zamboanga City a weak target because they were able to get away from any liability on the 2001 carnage. It was proven wrong by Mayor Beng.”
It can be recalled that in November 2001, hundreds of rebels occupied Cabatangan, the former Muslim regional complex, and held hostage dozens of civilians, including children, in an effort to stop the elections in the region.
More than 100 people were killed in the fighting and in the end, Mayor Maria Clara Lobregat, mother of incumbent congressman Celso Lobregat, who was the chief executive then, allowed the rebels to leave Zamboanga in exchange for the release of the hostages.
The next year, Zamboanga city was rocked with a series of Abu Sayyaf bombings - October 2, 17 and 21, 2002 that killed 11 people, including an U.S. soldier, and over 180 others wounded.
Salazar said the police chief then was Yanga. “The 2002 series of bombings is a sign of incompetence on Yanga’s part. He should have resigned his position after it happened,” he said.
Yanga, an ally of Lobregat, was the longest serving police chief in Zamboanga and occupied the position on and off for 5 years since 1999. (Mindanao Examiner)

Mga guro sa Maguindanao problemado sa seguridad

MAGUINDANAO PROVINCE – Natatakot ngayon ang mga guro sa bayan ng Sultan Mastura sa Maguindanao province na magsilbi sa darating na halalan matapos na pasabugan ng granada ang 6 na paaralan doon. 
Ayon sa isang guro, pinasabugan ang mga paraalan madaling araw ng Miyerkoles at granada diumano ang ginamit sa atake. Sa mga bintana inihagis ang mga granada, ngunit wala pang umako nito. 
Ang mga paaralang pinasabugan ay ang Tapayan Central School, Dagurungan Elementary School, Tuka Elementary School, Darping Elementary School, Tareken Primary, at Simuay Seashore Elementary School na gagamitin sana bilang poling precincts ng Commission on Elections sa halalan sa Mayo 9. 
Problemado ngayon ang mga guro sa kanilang seguridad dahil sa naganap. Tinitignan naman ngayon ng poll body kung isasalang ang mga guro sa halalan o ang mga parak at sundalo. 
Sinabi naman kahapon ni Sultan Mastura police chief, Senior Inspector Wendylyn Banico, na walang nabawi nila ang mga basyo ng bala sa lugar at dalawang safety levers ng granada at mga pira-pirasong plastic na posibleng pinaglagyan ng improvised explosives. 
Malaki ang hinala ng pulisya na may kinalaman sa pulitika ang naganap. Ang Maguindanao ay isa sa 5 lalawigan ng napakagulong Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. (Mindanao Examiner)

4 katao tumba sa pulisya sa Davao City

DAVAO CITY – Apat na hinihinalang drug pusher ang napatay kahapon ng madaling araw sa hiwalay na operasyon ng pulisya sa Davao City.
Sa ulat ng awtoridad, nanlaban diumano ang mga suspek kung kaya’t napilitang ang mga parak na ipagtanggol ang kanilang sarili at nakipagbarilan hanggang sa mapatay ang mga target ng operasyon.
Nakilala naman ang mga nasawi na sina Jojit Obatonon, Edward Magno, Bobby Daquigan at Renato Alamara sa ibat-ibang barangay doon. Nabawi rin ng pulisya ang mga droga at baril mula sa mga ito. 
Nadakip rin sa naturang operasyon ang mahigit sa isang dosenang suspek sa droga. (Mindanao Examiner)

IED explodes in General Santos City

COTABATO CITY – An improvised explosive went off Friday in General Santos City in the southern Philippines, but police authorities said there were no casualties in the blast.

The explosion occurred at a plaza and destroyed at least 3 motorcycles parked there. No individual or group claimed responsibility for the blast, but police were investigating this.

The blast occurred a day after policemen clashed with jihadists allied with Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamic in nearby Maasim town in Sarangani province.

Two gunmen were killed in the fighting in Daliao village and policemen recovered 3 automatic rifles, including a .50-caliber Barrett rifle and improvised explosives and a Daesh or ISIS flag in the area.

The target of the operation was Mohammad Maguid, who is facing a string of criminal charges, but he managed to escape the raiders.

It was unknown if the blast in General Santos City was connected to the clash. (Mindanao Examiner)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

ARMM turns over P8.3 million worth of livelihood projects to MNLF fisherfolk

MAGUINDANAO - The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) handed over PAMANA-ARMM fisheries assistance to Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) communities in a ceremonial turnover held Tuesday at the Parang Wharf in Maguindanao.
The livelihood projects amounting to about P8.3 M include seaweeds input, motorized and non-motorized bancas, fish cages, and fishing nets. These were implemented by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)-ARMM and funded through the PAMANA program's 2014 budget amounting to more than P160 M.
The beneficiaries were represented by at least three MNLF commanders present, all of whom are leaders in cooperatives based in MNLF communities.
Michael Talib of the Kasanyangan Fishnet Producers Cooperative expressed his thanks to the regional government, especially to the regional governor, the PAMANA office, and the BFAR-ARMM. "These livelihood programs for MNLF members are an immense help for our municipality," he said.
"As MNLF members, we promise to push for community-based initiatives especially now with these livelihood programs. Together, we will put a stop to wrong deeds and thoughts so we can live in peace, and take care of our livelihood in the process," Talib added.
Among those present in the turnover ceremony were Commander Abdul Jabbar M. Ambal, chairman of the Darussalam Producer Cooperative based in Lanao del Sur. Their cooperative was among one of the beneficiaries who earlier received similar assistance through PAMANA.
Ambal said that they are grateful for the banca and fishnets they received, along with other fishing implements. "This is the first time that this many livelihood programs reached the MNLF communities as part of the 1996 peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front," he said.
"In Lanao alone, more than 40 cooperatives were given livelihood programs. Imagine how many beneficiaries there are, with about 100 members in every cooperative. Even the children of MNLF combatants were give assistance as scholars, thanks to the regional and national government. Many of us are experiencing livelihood programs amounting to millions of pesos for the first time, thanks to Regional Governor Hataman's leadership," Ambal said.
Other beneficiaries were also present. These include the BS Costal MNLF Multi-Purpose Cooperative represented by Abdullawi H. Ebrahim and the Fisherfolks Peace and Development Association represented by Taib Aragasi.
The turnover program was headed by Engr. Dong Anayatin, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Concerns and PAPMO program manager, together with Elaine Josephine Basco, Project Development Officer of OPAPP-PAMANA Central Mindanao, and Johnell Raneses, area manager for OPAPP-Central Mindanao. BFAR-ARMM Director Janice Musali was represented by Datun Nur, provincial fisheries officer for Maguindanao. (Bureau of Public Information)

ARMM hires 562 teachers in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur

COTABATO CITY - The Education department in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DepEd-ARMM) hired 562 teachers in the provinces of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.

A total of 562 teachers signed on April 25 their appointment papers and deployment orders for assignments to different public elementary and secondary schools in the region. 

ARMM Education Secretary Dr. John Magno, chief of staff Atty. Rasol Mitmug Jr., and other DepEd-ARMM officials attended the mass signing. Of the 562 newly hired teachers, 238 will be deployed in Maguindanao and 324 in Lanao del Sur.

“More quality teachers are now being hired because our department (DepEd-ARMM) has improved its hiring and screening process,” Sec. Magno said. Before signing their appointments, the teachers had to pass competency examination, panel interview and teaching demonstration.

“This mechanism guarantees that only quality teachers will be hired and we want teachers that will guide the students on the right road towards a progressive future,” he added.

“At first I was hesitant in applying for a teaching position in DepEd-ARMM because I’ve heard there is ‘palakasan system’ (system of patronage), but still I tried and now I’m glad because out of thousands of teacher applicants, I’m signing my appointment now,” said Hasniya Abas, 25, of Saguiaran, Lanao del Sur. 

She said the current hiring process is more transparent, unlike before when it was tarnished by issues of bribery and connections. She was a private school teacher for two years and applied for a DepEd-ARMM teaching position last April 2015. She said it is her calling to help mold the minds of school children in ARMM.

The newly hired teachers’ first task will be to lead activities under the National Schools Maintenance Week, or the ‘Brigada Eskwela’, starting May 30. Sec. Magno said newly appointed teachers’ signing of appointments in the provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi is scheduled next week.

The Commision on Elections (Comelec) has exempted several government agencies, including DepEd, from the ban on hiring during election season in connection with the May 2016 polls. 

As stated in Comelec Resolution No. 10030, the Comelec has given the authority to hire, appoint, or transfer officers or employees to the Office of the President, the courts and several other government agencies. (Bureau of Public Information)

6 schools tapped for upcoming election strafed, blasted in Maguindanao

MAGUINDANAO PROVINCE - Unidentified armed men strafed and blasted 6 schools in Sultan Mastura town in Maguindanao, one of 5 provinces under the restive Muslim autonomous region.
Police confirmed the attacks which occurred at dawn Wednesday, but it could not say who were behind the straffings of Tapayan Central School, Dagurungan Elementary School, Tuka Elementary School, Darping Elementary School, Tareken Primary, and Simuay Seashore Elementary School which were all enlisted as poll centers on May 9 general elections.
Sultan Mastura chief of police Senior Inspector Wendylyn Banico said no one was reported hurt in the attacks, but they found bullet holes and craters caused by grenades in the area. Banico said they also recovered metallic and plastic fragments, including safety levers of fragmentation grenade, and bullet shells of various calibers.
Police were investigating the attacks, although no individual or groups claimed responsibility for this, but teachers now said they fear for their safety and their students.  (Mohd Saaduddin)

Sagupaan sa Bukidnon sumiklab

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Daan-daang katao na ang nagsilikas umano sa ilang barangay sa bayan ng Talakag sa lalawigan ng Bukidnon matapos na magsagupaan ang militar at mga rebeldeng New People’s Army doon.

Nabatid na kamakalawa pa nagsimula ang sporadic fighting sa Barangay Lirungan, ngunit hindi agad mabatid kung may casualties sa labanan dahil walang inilalabas na pahayag ang 4th Infantry Division.

Sa ulat naman ng pulisya, may dalawang sibilyan umano ang nasawi at isa ang sugatan subali’t hindi mabatid kung naipit ang mga ito sa labanan o kasama sa sagupaan. May mga ulat rin na pawing mga armadong natibo ang nakabangga ng militar

Matagal ng nakikibaka ang NPA sa pamahalaan upang maitatag nila ang sariling estado sa bansa. (Mindanao Examiner)