SLB Newsbriefs...daily news from different sources, truncated and compiled. updated daily.
Newsbriefs 05 December Afternoon
Simbahang Lingkod ng BayanReds denounce EU for putting them on terror list
COMMUNIST rebels on Monday denounced the European Union for blacklisting them as a terrorist group, saying this would hamper possible peace talks and increase the repression of their followers.
The National Democratic Front (NDF), the international representative of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and their guerrilla arm, the New People's Army (NPA), also accused the EU of pandering to the United States.
Both the United States, the main ally of the Philippines, and the EU have put the communists on their lists of "international terrorist organizations," hampering the flow of funds to the insurgents from their sympathizers abroad.
In a statement issued in Manila, the NDF said that the guerrilla movement had "never engaged in any transnational or cross-border act of violence upon its adversaries."
The rebels also said the EU listing had a particularly adverse effect on the founder of the communist movement, Jose Maria Sison, who is living in self-exile in the Netherlands.
The NDF also said that the terrorism label was "contributing to the paralysis" of the communists' peace negotiations with the government while emboldening security forces to commit "human rights violations."
The CPP has waged a 36-year-long Maoist campaign to seize power in the Philippines, including attacks on government forces and on rural businesses that refuse to pay their extortion demands.
In late November, an NPA spokesman warned that the rebels were going to step up their attacks in the coming weeks.
Peace talks between Manila and the communists ground to a halt last year after the rebels demanded the government campaign to have them removed from the EU and US terror blacklists.NDF to Arroyo: War or peace?
LUCENA CITY-- It’s either all-out war or peace talks.
The communist-led National Democratic Front said these were the only options left for the Arroyo administration in the wake of the intensified attacks being waged by New People's Army rebels in various parts of the country.
Luis Jalandoni, chair of the NDF peace panel, however, expects the government to continue with its hard-line militarist solution to insurgency and refuse to comply with its obligations under previous peace agreements and reject proposals to resume formal peace talks.
Jalandoni told the Inquirer in response to an e-mailed query that it was also possible that, finding itself in an increasingly desperate and isolated position, the Arroyo administration would decide to start complying with its obligations and move toward resuming the formal talks.
Jalandoni stressed the revolutionary movement "is prepared for either way the Arroyo regime will decide."
From the People's War Bulletin index posted on the CPP-NPA website, the communist guerrillas claimed to have staged, from September 20 to Nov. 21, a total of 68 ambuscades, tactical offensives and harassment of government forces in different parts of the country, killing many soldiers and carting away high-powered weapons and ammunition.
Jalandoni admitted the central committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines, in a directive in September, had ordered the NPA rebels to intensify nationwide tactical offensives against military, police and paramilitary forces.
He said the intensified NPA attacks were aimed "to isolate the Arroyo regime further and to embarrass the military and police with their losses."
Jalandoni predicted the continuous attacks by communist guerrillas would gradually advance the revolution from its present strategic defensive to a strategic stalemate stage and finally to a strategic offensive stage.
"That is the way for the people to gain political power. The offensives are now being stepped up because the oppressive and exploitative ruling system is in severe crisis, is very weak and is ripe for the offensives," Jalandoni said.Left-wing activist gunned down in Bataan
A left-wing activist was gunned down in Abucay, Bataan, Monday morning, DZMM reported.
The victim was identified as Cathy Alcantara, 43, member of the left-wing Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya.
Initial reports indicated that Alcantara was shot down by still unidentified gunmen while she was walking with her children inside County Resort, Barangay Gabun, Abucay.
The suspects immediately escaped after the shooting.
Alcantara's death came less than a week after the murder of Bayan Muna regional coordinator Pepeng Manegdeg in Barangay Apatot, San Esteban, Ilocos Sur last November 28.
Before Manegdeg, the last Bayan Muna officer killed was Ricardo "Ding" Uy, Bayan Muna provincial coordinator for Sorsogon and the president of the Media Reporters Association of the province.
Panel recommends raps vs execs over Garcillano 'escape' (news.inq7.net)
THE Department of Justice's (DoJ) "Task Force Garci" has recommended the filing of criminal and administrative charges against immigration and air transport officials for the “sneaky departure” of former election commissioner Virgilio Garcillano.
In its 23-page report to Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, the task force said Garcillano’s departure “unknown to everyone, even to the government agencies mandated to regulate the travel of Filipinos, showed lapses in procedures, gaps in coordination and weaknesses in strict enforcement and implementation of policies.”
The panel recommended that officials on duty from the Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Quarantine, Manila International Airport Authority and the Air Transportation Office when Garcillano reportedly fled overseas via Singapore in July should be charged with negligence.
“The circumstances behind former commissioner Garcillano’s sneaky departure are alarming and could set a dangerous precedent if not checked,” the panel said.DOLE: Lower RP unemployment rate seen in Oct
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Monday said it expects the country's unemployment rate to have gone down last October due to more jobs particularly in the services sector.
Labor Secretary Patricia Sto Tomas said latest DOLE statistics showed that the country gained an estimated 500, 000 jobs, reducing unemployment to 2.7 million in the third quarter. She added that the figure is lower than the 3.2 million unemployed in the same period last year.
"I am hoping to see [employment] rise in October because it is usually in that month that our employment rate rises," Sto. Tomas told DZMM.
Newsbriefs 05 December Morning
Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan
SEA Games champion at last
THERE'S NO denying the Philippines the overall title this time.
Pounding the opposition on various fronts, Team Philippines yesterday clinched its first ever overall championship of the Southeast Asian Games with a Day 8 deluge of 23 golds, pulling away from the opposition and rendering today's closing events with no bearing.
Posting its best ever haul of 113 golds, 76 silvers and 85 bronzes, the Philippines moved beyond the reach of Thailand which had a 75-77-107 tally and Vietnam with a 64-62-81 output.
Finally, after 46 years of fruitless campaigns, the Filipinos can claim to be the region's best in the biennial meet involving 11 nations, including war-ravaged Timor L'este.MILF, military rescue hostages
ZAMBOANGA CITY - Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels, backed by government security forces, rescued on Sunday a university professor and his wife kidnapped by bandits in Lanao del Sur, officials said.
Officials said the kidnappers abandoned Felipe Lucanas and his wife, Helen, in a village in Piagapo town after learning that MILF and military forces have surrounded their hideout.
"The bandits escaped, but there is a joint operation to capture them," Marines Brig. Gen. Mohammad bin Dolorfino, head of the government’s peace panel ad hoc joint action group, told The Manila Times by telephone from Piagapo.
He said the kidnappers were using VHF radios that allowed them to monitor MILF conversation about its plan to rescue the hostages.
The couple were kidnapped on Friday outside the Marawi State University and brought to Piagapo.
Lacunas, the 58-year-old professor, said they were not harmed by the kidnappers, but the group apparently panicked after intercepting radio messages that the MILF and government forces were approaching.
"The kidnappers, about five of them and all armed with M16 and M14 automatic rifles, panicked and were scared and talked about abandoning us for fear they would be captured by rebels," Lucanas said.
He said the rebels handed them over to Dolorfino’s group.
"I want to thank the MILF, the military and, of course, President Arroyo for saving our lives. We pray that the peace talks will succeed and bring lasting peace in Mindanao," he said. New leader of bishops hoping for good press
THE NEW president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) hopes he doesn't get the same bad press that his predecessor supposedly did.
On his first day on the job, Archbishop Angel Lagdameo sent a text message to Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros asking him for support.
"He texted me on the very first day he assumed office precisely about his predecessor," Oliveros said yesterday during an interview over Church-run Radio Veritas.
"He (Lagdameo) said he was hoping he would get the people's support and not criticisms like those hurled against Archbishop (Fernando) Capalla," he said in Filipino.
Oliveros wished his former professor in the seminary "luck in your relationship with the press."CBCP to close media office to avoid controversies?
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines is said to be planning to shut its media office as member-prelates were supposedly becoming unhappy over the coverage by certain media outfits of the CBCP, a Church insider disclosed yesterday.
The reason for such plan, however, was not disclosed while public relations officers of the CBCP said they have not been consulted on the issue.
The CBCP has closed its doors to some media practitioners on several occasions, mostly television reporters who wanted to cover the meetings of bishops held inside the conference’s compound in Intramuros, Manila.
The CBCP secretariat, on the other hand, has already denied allegations that they favor some media practitioners over the others.
A member-bishop, however, confirmed in an interview with the Church-run Radio Veritas yesterday that he was among those disappointed with opinions and news reports by a leading broadsheet that virtually attacked former CBCP president Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla.
Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros said this newspaper has been delivering "inaccurate and biased facts about Capalla," which he described as "not true journalism."
"I wonder why this columnist keeps on criticizing poor Archbishop Capalla, who he does not even know personally. I used to like him because he writes good but now I already stopped my subscription to that newspaper," Oliveros said.
The bishop said that even other writers of the newspaper have "slanted" reports on the CBCP: Pinagtagpi-tagpi yung mga naririnig nilang hakahaka (They piece together the gossip they hear) and present them as the truth. It’s very noticeable because I know personally these events being reported incorrectly."
"Sa ibang pahayagan naman, hindi nila ginagawa ‘yan (Other newspapers don’t do that)," Oliveros lamented. Just noise, Ramos says of coup rumors
Don't expect any coup against the Arroyo administration as long as supposedly disgruntled military officers talk about it, former President Fidel V. Ramos said Thursday.
Ramos said the public should be assured that no coup would take place as long as military officers give media interviews about their plans. There have been numerous reports about coups in the offing but none has been staged so far.
"Do not believe coups as long as they talk about it. Maybe, they only want to scare people," he said. Con-com rushing to beat Dec. 15 GMA deadline
After wrapping-up its series of regional public consultations, the 54-member consultative commission (con-com) tasked to study possible amendments to the Constitution are buckling down to work to meet the Dec. 15 deadline set by President Arroyo.
"Patapos na (It’s almost over)," said con-com secretary general Lito Monico Lorenzana. "We will push it. We promised the people that we will finish it by the 15th."
Lorenzana said based on initial analysis of public consultations held at key cities nationwide, there is "70 to 80 percent indication" that the people favor a shift to the parliamentary form of government, adopt a federal structure, and relax economic policies to allow foreigners to own land and engage in business.
"We were surprised that there was an overwhelming support to the (proposed) shift to (a) parliamentary (form of government) and (a) federal (structure of government)," he said.
"We only thought that this was only true in the Visayas and Mindanao," he added.
Lorenzana said during their recent series of consultations in Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Mindoro and the Bicol Region, it was only in Mindoro where the people strongly opposed the shift to a parliamentary form of government.
"They may not know much about federalism, but they know that it will give them more control of their lives," he said. Garci back in Manila for hearing
CONTROVERSIAL former Commission on Elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano returned yesterday to Manila from his hiding place in Mindanao to make good on his promise to appear for the reopening of the “Hello Garci” investigation by the five joint House committees starting Wednesday.
The former poll official, who the opposition claims was caught in wiretapped conversations with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to rig the May 2004 elections, said he has decided to come out to clear his name and to file charges against those who maligned him while he was in hiding.
Garcillano allegedly came from the Moro National Liberation Front-controlled Barangay Purah in North Upi, Maguindanao before meeting with House and police officials and a group of Manila-based newsmen in the coastal village of Barangay Kusiong, Datu Odin Sinsuat, also in Maguindanao.
Barangay Purah is 15 km away from barangay Kusiong, which is in turn about 45 minutes by land from Cotabato City.
Wearing matching light brown pants and shirt and a floppy blue cotton hat, Garcillano made a “dramatic” appearance at the beach of Barangay Kusiong, arriving on a speed boat with two powerful outboard motors and five men with covered faces and AK-47 assault rifles believed to be Muslim secessionist rebels.
At the beach, he was met by House sergeant-at-arms constabulary general (ret.) Bayani Fabic and Senior Supt. Romeo Hilomen, deputy chief of the PNP Security and Protection Office, and his lawyer, Eddie Tamondong.
Meanwhile, Malacañang reiterated yesterday that it will not attempt to muzzle Garcillano or tell him what to say, now that he has given himself up to the authorities.
“All along we have been saying that we are not hiding anything. He can definitely say what he wants to say. We have no reason to be worried. It’s only the opposition that has been saying a lot of things,” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said.