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Archive for May 15th, 2007

11 hurt in ship explosion off Cebu City port

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By Jhunnex Napallacan
Visayas Bureau
Last updated 10:52pm (Mla time) 05/15/2007

CEBU CITY — At least 11 persons were injured after an explosion rocked a passenger vessel shortly after it left the Cebu City port early Tuesday evening, Coast Guard officials said.

The explosion at the engine room of the M/V Butuan Bay, which was carrying 513 passengers and crew, occurred at 7:45 p.m., the Philippine Coast Guard in Cebu said.

Commodore Alejandro Flora, Coast Guard Central-Eastern Visayas commander, ruled out terrorism as a possible cause of the blast.

Flora said he talked to Ben Gothong, one of the owners of the shipping company, who informed him that it was the ship’s engine that exploded.

The inter-island vessel left the Cebu City port at around 7:10 p.m. and was bound for Ozamis City via Iligan City, the report aid.

Five passengers and six of the ship’s crew were injured, said Flora. They suffered minor burns and were brought to a nearby hospital, after a tugboat hauled the ship back to the port.

The explosion occurred when the ship was between Pier 4 and 5 on the Cebu City side, Flora added.

He said he sent a Coastguard officer to the ship to investigate but they would start the formal investigation on Wednesday.

The five passengers suffered burns when the explosion caused some of the debris to pass through the ship’s smokestack and fall on the passengers, he said.

One of the injured passengers, a Boy Surigao, said in a radio interview that he was looking at the fading lights of Cebu when he heard a loud explosion.

He said he saw several cots close to where he was standing got thrown upward by the explosion before the whole ship was plunged into darkness and passengers went into panic.

Surigao, who was slightly injured along with his wife Nimfa, said rescuers on board a Coast Guard tugboat came minutes later. The Surigao couple was given first aid treatment at the port area here but not hospitalized.

He said he and his wife were transferred to the tugboat along with injured passengers.

The five injured passengers were brought to the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC). They had superficial burns and were in stable condition, said Perelyn Rodil, on duty nurse at the CCMC’s emergency room.

The five were identified as Aiza Defamente, 17; Quenie Bawnasor, 20; Julito Malinao, 20; Wenzell Claro, 21; and Marichell Caballero, 19.

The injured crewmen were brought to a still unknown hospital in Cebu City by an ambulance of the Emergency Rescue Foundation Unit. Their condition was not known as of this posting.

With a report from Joel Guinto,

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002007-05-15T15:40:58+00:00+00:0005b+00:00Tue, 15 May 2007 15:40:58 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm05

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‘We’ve tracked down Dulmatin’ — military

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 05:26pm (Mla time) 05/15/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The military claims to have tracked down the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) bomb expert Dulmatin, following the recent recovery of his four children in Tawi-Tawi province.

Armed Forces spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro said there have been sightings of Dulmatin, but he refused to say where because this could compromise pursuit operations against the Indonesian terror suspect.

“Yes [there were sightings], but I cannot disclose the place,” Bacarro told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

Asked if troops were closing in on Dulmatin, who children were found by troops in a pre-dawn raid on a suspected terrorist safe house last Friday, Bacarro said: “This is an indicator that our efforts are on track. We will continue doing this.”

The military turned over the four to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Manila over the weekend.

In October, troops arrested Dulmatin’s wife, Istiada Biti Oemar Sovie, and their two other children for violating immigration laws. They were later deported to Indonesia.

Dulmatin, one of the alleged masterminds of the 2002 bomb attacks in Bali, Indonesia, is reportedly hiding in the island province of Sulu with another JI suspect, Umar Patek.

The two JI militants are reportedly with leaders of the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group.

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Tue+00:002007-05-15T14:05:14+00:00+00:0005b+00:00Tue, 15 May 2007 14:05:14 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm05

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Amid killings, Calderon tells Abra cops, ‘Good job’

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 05:02pm (Mla time) 05/15/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Notwithstanding the nine people killed in Abra province during the election period, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Oscar Calderon on Tuesday congratulated personnel deployed to the northern Luzon province.

Calderon explained that he saw for himself how big the province is and how “remote” one of the towns where violence occurred was during a recent visit.

“I would even congratulate them instead of cautioning them,” Calderon told a news conference in Camp Crame. “The people there were able to vote peacefully and that is a good sign that things are peaceful. The Comelec [Commission on Elections] is focused there, the PNP is focused there; we have many troops there.”

The single most violent incident in Abra was on May 4, when six supporters of Lagayan town Mayor Cecilia Luna were killed in an ambush.

On Election Day, a village chief was killed in a shooting incident in Bucay town.

Shooting incidents in late April also left two village chiefs in Bucay and Tineg towns and a bodyguard of a mayoralty candidate dead.

Even before the campaign period started, on December 16 last year, Abra Representative Luis Bersamin Jr. was gunned down in Quezon City. Governor Vicente Valera has been investigated for the crime.

Valera is running for Congress against Lagayan Mayor Luna, who blamed him for the ambush on her supporters.

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Tue+00:002007-05-15T09:26:54+00:00+00:0005b+00:00Tue, 15 May 2007 09:26:54 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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Poll-related violence on the rise — police data

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 04:58pm (Mla time) 05/15/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) declared that this year’s balloting was “relatively peaceful” but election-related killings have been on an upward trend since the 1995 polls, police data showed.


With less than a month to go before the election period ends, killings have increased more than six-folds in the last five elections since 1995, data showed. This year, 60 politicians seeking reelection or new candidates were killed, compared to 41 in 2004, and 21 in 2001, 14 in 1998, and nine in 1995.

The number of shooting incidents has climbed close to 400 percent over five years to 128 so far this year, from 111 in 2004, 70 in 2001, 59 in 1998, and 26 in 1995.

Police said this year’s mid-term elections was “relatively” peaceful since the death toll so far, to include civilians and supporters of candidates, was at 126, lower than 186 in 2004, but slightly higher than 111 in 2001.

A great majority of the deaths in 2004, 148, were civilians, compared to the 66 deaths so far this year, and 90 deaths in 2001.

Deputy Director General Avelino Razon Jr., the deputy PNP chief for administration said the rising number of politicians killed in the elections was being studied.

“We are studying our data, why more politicians are being killed,” Razon said in phone interview.

“But let’s look at the bigger picture, there were lesser deaths and ERVIs (election related violent incidents) this year,” he said, adding, “The number of deaths of supporters offsets the number of politicians killed.”

The PNP has so far recorded 217 ERVIs this year, compared to 249 in 2004 and 269 in 2001, 267 in 1998, and 121 in 1995.

Election-related violence has so far left 149 people wounded this year, compared to 279 in 2004, 253 in 2001, 162 in 1998 and 111 in 1995.

More politicians were also wounded over the last three elections, 32 so far this year, from 18 in 2004, and nine in 2001. In 1998, 13 politicians were wounded, up from two in 1998.

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Tue+00:002007-05-15T09:24:56+00:00+00:0005b+00:00Tue, 15 May 2007 09:24:56 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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Van with suspected poll returns seized in Pasig

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 04:41pm (Mla time) 05/15/2007

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Police held a passenger van outside a canvassing site in Pasig City Tuesday afternoon on suspicion that it contained fake election returns (ERs), a police official said.

The driver, whose identity was not immediately known, was taken into custody for questioning, said Chief Superintendent Luizo Ticman Jr., Eastern Police District (EPD) director.

The van was parked at the Pasig Sports Complex grounds, where the canvassing of votes in the city is ongoing, Ticman said in a phone interview.

“He [driver] was incoherent during questioning. Napag-utusan lang daw siya [He said he was just under orders],” Ticman said.

The mayoral post is hotly contested by Councilor Roberto “Bobby” Eusebio, son of incumbent Mayor Vicente Eusebio, and Pasig City Representative Robert “Dodot” Jaworski Jr.

Jaworski’s lawyer, Ryan Jan Cruz, who was at the scene, said the van was full of sealed envelopes. Papers sticking out of an open envelope appeared to be an ER, he said.

Ticman and Cruz said Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials have been called to the scene to check the documents in the van.

Asked in a phone interview if Jaworski’s camp suspects the documents in the van could be used for fraud, Cruz said: “There are many irregularities. Why were the ERs inside the van, not the canvassing area? All the ERs should have been turned over after the canvassing.”

A television report quoted Jaworski as saying the incident was a clear violation of election laws and that he would file the appropriate charges.

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Tue+00:002007-05-15T09:19:52+00:00+00:0005b+00:00Tue, 15 May 2007 09:19:52 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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Calderon advice to losing bets: No violence, pray

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Joel Guinto

Last updated 02:38pm (Mla time) 05/15/2007

MANILA, Philippines — If you are losing in the count, pray, don’t resort to violence.

This was Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Calderon’s advice to candidates in the mid-term elections, as the casualty count in violent incidents mounted.

“We appeal to those who are losing, don’t put the law into your hands,” Calderon said told reporters in Camp Crame.

“The people have decided. Let the will of the people prevail. Just pray that you can catch up,” Calderon added.

As of Tuesday morning, police said 126 people have been killed and 19 others wounded in 217 election-related violent incidents (ERVIs). The count covers the entire election period, which started on January 14, and would end on June 13.

During the election period in 2004, 189 people were killed and 279 others were wounded.

The casualty count Monday, Election Day, is slightly higher, with 11 people killed and nine others wounded, compared to the nine deaths and 22 hurt in the May 10, 2004 polls.

The latest fatalities were two people who were trapped at a polling precinct in Taysan town, Batangas province, which was burned down by unidentified men, whom Calderon suspected to be communist guerillas.

After polling precincts closed on Monday, Calderon said security forces would not let their guards down since the canvassing was the “most critical stage” of the elections that “sometimes leads to conformation between contending parties.”

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Tue+00:002007-05-15T08:07:32+00:00+00:0005b+00:00Tue, 15 May 2007 08:07:32 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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Poll death toll hits 126 in 215 incidents — PNP

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Go ‘hammer and tongs’ vs culprits — Calderon

By Joel Guinto
Last updated 12:55pm (Mla time) 05/15/2007

MANILA, Philippines — As the canvassing of votes shifted to high gear, the number of election-related violent incidents (ERVIs) has risen to 215, with 126 people killed and 148 wounded, police said.

Of the 126 deaths, 60 were politicians seeking reelection or new candidates, while 66 were supporters of politicians or civilians, according to police data as of late Monday, which was released Tuesday.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Oscar Calderon issued orders to go “hammer and tongs” against the perpetrators of these incidents.

“The first order of the day is to go hammer and tongs against those responsible for this election violence and give justice to the 126 killed and 149 [wounded] in these incidents,” Calderon said at a news conference in Camp Crame.

Calderon also hailed the “heroism and courage” of the 15 policemen killed and 17 others wounded in violent incidents in Occidental Mindoro, Masbate, and Abra provinces.

He said the policemen killed in the line of duty would be given posthumous promotions and their families receive cash assistance on top of the benefits due them.

Calderon said the 217 ERVIs recorded so far is “relatively low” compared to previous elections, but at the same time, he admitted that he was “not comfortable even with this improved condition of election security.”

“With the elections now behind us, we can now re-focus on our regular function of law enforcement and crime prevention and control,” he said.

On Monday, Election Day, 11 people were killed and nine wounded, slightly higher than the casualty count on Election Day in 2004, when nine people were killed and 22 others wounded.

On Tuesday, two people have so far been reported killed and seven wounded. The day after the 2004 presidential elections, three persons were killed and eight wounded.

The Tuesday deaths were teachers who were trapped when armed men set fire to a polling precinct in Tayasan town, Batangas province.

Director Wilfredo Garcia, chief of the PNP Directorate for Operations said 72 of the ERVIs were “politically motivated,” or meant to further political goals.

Garcia said the 82 others, even if candidates or supporters were involved, were “not politically motivated” or were “motivated by [criminal] or personal interest.”

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Tue+00:002007-05-15T06:02:29+00:00+00:0005b+00:00Tue, 15 May 2007 06:02:29 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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