Deadline all the time

breaking news stories, photos, and video

Archive for June 2008

Military rescue operations for Basilan workers suspended

with one comment

Negotiations underway–official

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:39:00 06/30/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Rescue operations for four employees of an electric cooperative that were kidnapped by alleged Abu Sayyaf bandits in the southern island province of Basilan have been suspended to give way to negotiations, a military official said.

Vice Governor Al-Rashid Sakalahul is leading the negotiations against the abductors, Marine Corps Commandant Major General Ben Dolorfino told reporters on Monday.

Quoting Senior Superintendent Salik Macapantar, Basilan provincial police director, Dolorfino said: “They have suspended the conduct of Police and Marine rescue operations pending the negotiation being conducted by the vice governor and the authorities of the Basilan Electric Co.”

Dolorfino could not say whether the kidnappers, led by Abu Sayyaf leaders Nur Hasan Jamiri and Furuji Indama, have made any demands.

“In a situation like that, the primary consideration always is the safety of the victims, so we are giving way to the crisis management team,” Dolorfino said.

On June 26, the Abu Sayyaf allegedly abducted five employees of the
Basilan Electric Cooperative (Baselco) in Tuburan town, while they were inspecting transmission lines. One of the abductees was freed later in the day, reportedly because he was a member of the Yakan tribe, like the abductors.

The Tuburan incident was the second kidnapping incident involving the Abu Sayyaf this month. On June 8, the bandits abducted an ABS-CBN television news crew and their guide in Sulu province and were freed several days later, amid reports that ransom was paid.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Advertisements

Written by joelguinto

MonUTC2008-06-30T09:26:21+00:00UTC06bUTCMon, 30 Jun 2008 09:26:21 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

Posted in Uncategorized

Military chief warns Marines against ‘treacherous act’

leave a comment »

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 15:40:00 06/30/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Military adventurism is a “treacherous act” and it is the duty of soldiers to uphold duly-elected authorities, Armed Forces Chief Alexander Yano told the Marine Corps Monday.

In his first visit to the Marine Headquarters in Fort Bonifacio as military chief on Monday, Yano told officers and soldiers that turning against government was like embracing someone, before stabbing him in the back.

“We have taken an oath, and what is that oath, to defend the Constitution, to adhere to the chain of command and the duly constituted authority, all the way to the commander-in-chief, whoever he is,” Yano said.

“Duly constituted, this means [the person] was elected, was proclaimed, regardless,” Yano said before breaking into a pause, then added, “Because there are processes, legal and democratic that proclaim, indeed it is not for us to proclaim.”

Yano was apparently referring to allegations of election fraud that almost brought down President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s government.

The vote-rigging controversy is the main reason why nine Marine officers and 19 others from the Scout Rangers are facing a court martial for mutiny over an alleged coup plot in February 2006.

“That should be very clear to all of us that military adventurism should not have any place in a professional military organization,” the military chief said.

“The analogy there is, you were given arms, you were given the wherewithal and weapons by that institution you are supposed to defend, then what you embrace, then stab the one who feeds you, the one who pays you, in the back. That is a very treacherous act,” he added.

After his talk, Yano and Marines Chief Major General Ben Dolorfino joined officers and men in a “boodle fight.” Two long tables were laid out on the side of the auditorium Rice, roasted fish, chicken adobo (meat stew), and pancit (noodles) on banana leaves were placed on it.

Earlier Monday, Yano also visited the Philippine Navy headquarters in Manila, where he was received by the Navy Flag Officer-in-Command, Vice Admiral Rogelio Calunsag.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

MonUTC2008-06-30T08:54:37+00:00UTC06bUTCMon, 30 Jun 2008 08:54:37 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

Posted in Uncategorized

Homecoming for 2 Fil-Am sailors aboard US aircraft carrier

leave a comment »

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 13:38:00 06/29/2008

ILOILO CITY, Philippines–They found themselves in mud and floodwaters, but it was a homecoming nonetheless for two Filipino-American sailors working on the USS Ronald Reagan, an aircraft carrier whose assets are being used in relief operations in the flood-ravaged Western Visayas.

Both sailors are Ilonggo and were allowed a break from their duties at sea to be with their families in this province, one of the worst-hit by typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen), said Lieutenant Ron Flanders, USS Reagan Public Information Officer.

Some 400 of the 5,000 US Navy men on board the aircraft carrier “have ties to the Philippines,” Flanders told reporters here.

Seaman Grace Geroche went to her mother Edna’s house in Iloilo City, whom she found “up to her neck in water,” while her brother was sleeping on the ceiling.

“It’s very hard for her, so we flew her daughter off the ship to meet with her, it’s very emotional,” Flanders said.

Another sailor, whose name Flanders could not immediately recall, went home to Iloilo to clean his house off mud.

“[He is] one of the sailors came here two days ago, and his wife had him cleaning the mud out of their house, so he had to fly ashore. He was working on the ship now he’s cleaning mud out of his wife’s home,” Flanders said.

United States Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney toured Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano on the USS Ronald Reagan on Sunday, after the military chief delivered relief supplies here via a C-130 cargo plane.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

SunUTC2008-06-29T17:16:43+00:00UTC06bUTCSun, 29 Jun 2008 17:16:43 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm06

Posted in Uncategorized

Food shortage looms due to ‘Frank’–Arroyo adviser

leave a comment »

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 13:20:00 06/29/2008

ILOILO CITY, Philippines–A “food shortage” looms in the next one to two months after massive floods due to typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen) devastated farm lands and livestock in the Western Visayas, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s adviser for the region said Sunday.

“We may face a food shortage, that is the extent of the damage from the typhoon,” Presidential Adviser on the Western Visayas Raul Bañas told reporters here after he received a delivery of relief supplies from Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano.

“In our aerial sorties, we saw firsthand how grave the damage is to crops. I think that’s one of the major problems we are facing,” he said.

Bañas said one of the affected provinces, Iloilo, is one of the top three rice-producing provinces in the country.

He said the floods destroyed 22 hectares or rice lands, equivalent to 66,000 metric tons of rice, and “almost wiped out” livestock and fisheries in the region.

In Cadiz town in Negros Occidental, Bañas said the storm destroyed half a billion pesos worth of fishing boats.

Bañas appealed for donations of potable water, saying the water systems destroyed by the storm have not been repaired.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

SunUTC2008-06-29T17:12:17+00:00UTC06bUTCSun, 29 Jun 2008 17:12:17 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm06

Posted in Uncategorized

No nuclear weapons on US aircraft carrier, says envoy

leave a comment »

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 13:12:00 06/29/2008

ILOILO CITY, Philippines — The USS Ronald Reagan, whose air assets have been helping in the typhoon-ravaged Western Visayas, is not carrying nuclear weapons, US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney said Sunday.

“As a matter of policy, our ships don’t deploy nuclear weapons,” Kenney told reporters here, before she toured Military Chief General Alexander Yano on the aircraft carrier, located 15 to 17 nautical miles south southwest of this city, outside Philippine territorial waters.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had ordered officials to keep the USS Ronald Reagan outside Philippine territory amid criticism that its stay in the country violated the Constitution.

Dodging the criticism, Kenney said: “What I would say is we’re very proud to be here helping. It’s part of the partnership.”

Kenney said the “plan was not for it [ship] to be in Philippine waters.” She added that with its size, the USS Ronald Reagan would need to be in deep waters, and would be used merely as launching pads for Seahawk helicopters to transport relief supplies.

US President George W. Bush dispatched the aircraft carrier to the country last week, during a meeting with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Washington D.C.

Eight Seahawks have been flying in and out of the Iloilo international airport. On Sunday, it ferried relief goods brought in by Yano and his party via a C-130 cargo plane.

“We’ve gotten about 90,000 pounds [of supplies]… When the Armed Forces of the Philippines says, here is where something needs to go, we say, right, yes sir,” the envoy said.

Massive floods in the Western Visayas, triggered by typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen) have caused over 500 fatalities and has left close to 300 missing.

The storm also caused a passenger ship carrying 862 passengers and crew, the M/V Princess of the Stars, to capsize off the central island province of Romblon during its onslaught last Saturday.

Kenney said relief supplies from the USAID would be flown in here on Sunday evening.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

SunUTC2008-06-29T17:08:09+00:00UTC06bUTCSun, 29 Jun 2008 17:08:09 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm06

Posted in Uncategorized

Ocampo gets flashback as he visits ‘coup plotters’ at ISAFP

leave a comment »

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:37:00 06/27/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Bayan Muna party-list Representative Satur Ocampo got flashbacks of his days in military detention when he inspected the cells of six Marine and Scout Ranger officers linked to an alleged February 2006 coup plot.

Ocampo joined Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chair Leila de Lima and other members of the House committee on human rights, of which he is a member, in checking the detention cells at the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) compound in Camp Aguinaldo last Wednesday.

Ocampo, a former spokesman of the National Democratic Front (NDF), spent years in detention under the Marcos dictatorship and the Aquino administration, some of them at the Intelligence Service Group (ISG) in Fort Bonifacio, the Philippine Army headquarters.

“I am familiar with the place. There’s a narrow cell and a really high wall,” Ocampo said, noting the similarities between the ISAFP and ISG detention centers.

“There was a small window where they slipped my food. I also remember being blindfolded and when I had visitors, I was made to walk twice around the compound blindfolded before I can meet them,” he said.

Ocampo said Miranda and Querubin jokingly kept on making references to his own detention inside military camps during the meeting that lasted nearly three hours.

“They said I was familiar with that kind of living condition,” Ocampo chuckled.

The six officers detained at the ISAFP are: from the Marines, Major General Renato Miranda, Colonels Ariel Querubin and Orlando de Leon and Lieutenant Colonel Achilles Segumalian; and from the Scout Rangers, Lieutenant Colonel Edmundo Malabanjot and Major Jason Aquino from the Army Scout Rangers.

Ocampo said he practically shared the same experience during his detention at the ISG as Aquino, who used to be jailed there, and Army Captain Dante Langkit, who is still held at the Fort Bonifacio facility.

During the dictatorship, Ocampo spent nine months in solitary confinement.

Langkit and Aquino were also kept in solitary for months. And Ocampo said a certain Sergeant Bossi remains in solitary confinements at the ISAFP.

Ocampo said Aquino told him how, on one occasion, his blindfold was removed in front of his family.

“The impact of it was traumatizing for his wife and children,” the lawmaker said.

Ocampo described Aquino as an “outspoken and assertive” officer who believes that “his colleagues were soldiers of the people and not of Malacañang.”

The leftist solon stressed that human rights applied to all, including members of the military. He expressed support for his committee’s plan to review the Articles of War that govern the AFP.

“There could be abuse in the implementation [of the Articles of War]. The [detained]officers said there’s a need to revise it, not for them but so that their fellow soldiers would not suffer the same fate,” Ocampo said.

Asked if he gave any advice to the detained military officers, Ocampo again chuckled.

“I didn’t have to. They are a determined group,” he said.

The detainees detained at the ISAFP are among 28 facing court martial for mutiny over the alleged 2006 coup plot.

Army Brigadier General Danilo Lim is detained at police headquarters in Camp Crame along with junior officers from the Magdalo group for the November 29 occupation of the Manila Peninsula Hotel.

The rest are detained at an Army camp in Tanay town, Rizal province.

Nikko Dizon, Philippine Daily Inquirer

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

FriUTC2008-06-27T09:42:02+00:00UTC06bUTCFri, 27 Jun 2008 09:42:02 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

Posted in Uncategorized

AFP chief open to review of Articles of War

leave a comment »

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 15:29:00 06/27/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Alexander Yano said he is open to a “restudy” of the Articles of War to address “present situations.”

Yano was responding to proposals from Commission on Human Rights chair Leila de Lima, and House Committee on Human Rights head Representative Lorenzo Tañada, following an inspection earlier this of the jail cells of six military officers linked to an alleged coup plot in February 2006.

The inspection revealed alleged poor living conditions.

“I would welcome any legal way to restudy the Articles of War so that it can address present situations, but as long as no amendments are made, definitely, we have to adhere to the [Articles of War],” Yano told reporters.

Tañada said Marine Major General Renato Miranda, the highest ranked accused, had a point, when he told the Quezon representative that “it would be hard to keep a professional military establishment if the leaders of the military are given too much discretion and would be too influential.”

De Lima said the Articles of War should be “attuned to human rights standards and human rights conventions to which the Philippines is a signatory.”

Miranda is detained at the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) compound in Camp Aguinaldo with five other officers — Colonels Ariel Querubin and Orlando de Leon and Lieutenant Colonel Achilles Segumalian of the Marines; and Lieutenant Colonel Edmundo Malabanjot and Major Jason Aquino of the Army Scout Rangers.

Twenty-eight officers are facing court martial for mutiny charges stemming form the alleged 2006 plot.

Army Brigadier General Danilo Lim is detained at police headquarters in Camp Crame along with junior officers of the Magdalo group for the occupation on November 29 last year of the Manila Peninsula Hotel. The rest of the accused officers are detained at an Army camp in Tanay town, Rizal province.

The 28 officers were at odds with Yano’s predecessor, retired general and now presidential peace adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., over the allegedly inhumane treatment they suffered in detention, and their abrupt transfers from the Intelligence Service of the AFP compound to Camp Capinpin.

Esperon repeatedly invoked Article of War 105 or the detaining power of the commander for his actions.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

FriUTC2008-06-27T07:50:22+00:00UTC06bUTCFri, 27 Jun 2008 07:50:22 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

Posted in Uncategorized