Posts filed under ‘news’
MIKEINMANILA EXCLUSIVE: UPDATE 3
13 bikes, 3 ATVs, SUVs, sports cars, guns galore and more recovered in a major raid. Second raid recovers around two dozen more bikes. NBI in Northern Mindanao identifies alleged owner of car dealerships as professional rider and car & bike dealer, report says 25 cars and 18 bikes recovered in major transpacific anti-grand theft auto raid.
The story reads like a plot for Die Hard Six, for Skip Woods, the writer of Die Hard 5, GI Joe The Rise of Cobra, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.It’s often said the best stories are true to life. For the plot, which would also fit on Fox’s ‘The Good Guys’, it starts from the simple recovery of a stolen vehicle — a motorcycle, a Martin Brothers original. Key figures: a ‘major writer’ based in Texas who works in Hollywood.
He loves his bike, a custom Martin Brothers bike. He loved long drives and would head out from wide open spaces in California to flatlands and expanse of open space of the Southwest to Texas. Reality paints a better picture than film here… he and his bike he loved – a man free to roam.
The bike and him were inseparable, then, his bike was stolen in Houston Texas.The writer, Skip Woods, like any other victim went to Police, who traced the bike theft to a gang that ships expensive American-made motorcycles like Harleys and his Martin Brothers custom to Asia via Mexico and Los Angeles.
Not content to go out and buy a new one with insurance money, he hired private investigators, Orion Support Inc., who traced the bike and upon that, the custom bike was seen in Asia in the Philippines.
Tuesday, led by local Philippine National Police Provincial Director Buboy Mijares, Agent Wency Galindez of NBI Cagayan De Oro, along with US Law enforcement – at least one FBI agent and OSI private invetigators – the team searching for the rare bike found much more than Skip’s bike.
Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby who leaked the name of a CIA agent who was critical of the White House actions that led to the war in Iraq will still face probation a huge fine and civil suits that will most likely hound him for the rest of his life. The public figure’s worst nightmare is often the stripping of the ability to work within the corridors of power and end of high-profile life and the wheeling and dealing that goes with it.
‘Scooter’ doesn’t walk – he is punished -the executive clemency action by the President is a privilege he has – something perhaps he can wield in the weeks months and more ahead if any other white house insiders face trouble on his watch.
Would i have been better to put him behind bars for thirty months? that’s somethings lawyers debate on – I mean paris hilton got a reprieve and lesser jail time in a way because some felt the popularity and notoriety of being tough on those who walk the lights and places of power should be made to suffer more in sentences – something of making an ‘example’ of them.
But justice is supposed to be fair – regardless of social stature – wealth and or influence. In similar circumstances others might have been fined or have collar placed on them and home arrest. Or so the President says in his statement.
So While not ‘Scott free’ Libby will scoot away from jail and try and to rebuild his life an family. An outcast fallen and perhaps stripped of all if not most of his power and influence and forever etched as the man who leaked a name of as some call it – those oh so secret ‘carte blanche’ untouchables of Langley – whose identities are protected to the grave even if at times their actions run against all that is enshrined in a document whose main essence is “these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” except those whose names must be kept secret? Even if their actions run against those wants of their commander in chief?
Sadly there is a new aristocracy in America made of privileged lawyers and fringe groups and others who lord it over the rest of the People. But take comfort in this thought that this will nt last forever. Since after all – “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”…
SO Scooter, punished, humiliated, and most likely a life story for Hollywood in the works – did not get away with his actions. He is punished and the President’s clemency act – his only reprieve will go forth into the night – Independence declared and lesson learned that his liberty and freedom to pursue his happiness comes on Independence day.
Here’s GW’s statement:
Grant of Executive Clemency
The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today rejected Lewis Libby’s request to remain free on bail while pursuing his appeals for the serious convictions of perjury and obstruction of justice. As a result, Mr. Libby will be required to turn himself over to the Bureau of Prisons to begin serving his prison sentence.
I have said throughout this process that it would not be appropriate to comment or intervene in this case until Mr. Libby’s appeals have been exhausted. But with the denial of bail being upheld and incarceration imminent, I believe it is now important to react to that decision.
From the very beginning of the investigation into the leaking of Valerie Plame’s name, I made it clear to the White House staff and anyone serving in my administration that I expected full cooperation with the Justice Department. Dozens of White House staff and administration officials dutifully cooperated.
After the investigation was under way, the Justice Department appointed United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald as a Special Counsel in charge of the case. Mr. Fitzgerald is a highly qualified, professional prosecutor who carried out his responsibilities as charged.
This case has generated significant commentary and debate. Critics of the investigation have argued that a special counsel should not have been appointed, nor should the investigation have been pursued after the Justice Department learned who leaked Ms. Plame’s name to columnist Robert Novak. Furthermore, the critics point out that neither Mr. Libby nor anyone else has been charged with violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act or the Espionage Act, which were the original subjects of the investigation. Finally, critics say the punishment does not fit the crime: Mr. Libby was a first-time offender with years of exceptional public service and was handed a harsh sentence based in part on allegations never presented to the jury.
Others point out that a jury of citizens weighed all the evidence and listened to all the testimony and found Mr. Libby guilty of perjury and obstructing justice. They argue, correctly, that our entire system of justice relies on people telling the truth. And if a person does not tell the truth, particularly if he serves in government and holds the public trust, he must be held accountable. They say that had Mr. Libby only told the truth, he would have never been indicted in the first place.
Both critics and defenders of this investigation have made important points. I have made my own evaluation. In preparing for the decision I am announcing today, I have carefully weighed these arguments and the circumstances surrounding this case.
Mr. Libby was sentenced to thirty months of prison, two years of probation, and a $250,000 fine. In making the sentencing decision, the district court rejected the advice of the probation office, which recommended a lesser sentence and the consideration of factors that could have led to a sentence of home confinement or probation.
I respect the jury’s verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison.
My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. He will remain on probation. The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting.
The Constitution gives the President the power of clemency to be used when he deems it to be warranted. It is my judgment that a commutation of the prison term in Mr. Libby’s case is an appropriate exercise of this power.
# # #
Fil-am friendshp Party at Sofitel
Every year the American community of Manila gathers to celebrate Independance day and Fil-Am friendship day. Last year the events took place at the International School in Taguig. It was a fun picnic and as ussual there were marching bands, kids games, a party and fun for all. I featured it on FYITv.net and my youtube site:
This year the event takes place at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza.
International Poll Watchers in Mindanao: Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia
A group of 21 poll watchers from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia have set up shop in Mindanao to look over the Philippine election process,
The observer mission is being coordinated by the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) and supported with funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Asia Foundation.
In all some 219 observers from the US, EU, Canada, the UK and the UN are looking at the conduct of the election process. Some have also come to learn how to watch and what to look for in election related issues and concerns for when elections take place in their own countries.
For this group of mostly Muslim observers during their deployment in the ARMM, the observer team members will be hosted by six local Muslim civil society groups that have signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) on April 3, 2007.
The goal is make sure that this group gets a chance to see what is going on and report any irregularities if any are found in the conduct of the polls. The observers for this group from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia – come from countries that do also have elections – however have very different government systems –
Hence each of the observers do bring some issues from their home countries that does show more localized understanding than many western observers – Pakistan for example – is run by former general who took power after a coup. Bangladesh – just had a major upheaval with local political reform being meted out by a sweeping move at anti-corruption and very public arrests of old styled political figures and oligarch’s there. Thailand – well – we all so that coup however peaceful – it still does not have democratically elected leadership at this time – although elections are promised and expected soon there and a major Islamic insurgency is ongoing. Indonesia – like the Philippines is dealing with post dictatorship adjustments to democratic space – and so far it has done well – its government is elected. Malaysia is a democracy – but – still has some post Mahathir issues – reform there seems close at hand with the changes made so far and freedom given to people like Anwar Ibrihim.
Sri Lanka is also facing insurgency – seperatists Tamils hold a mjaor section of the country – but for the most part is a democracy: .
Reports from Nigeria indicate that South Korean and Filipino hostages working for Daewoo construction in troubled southern Nigeria were released.
The group was released at after five days in captivity. Reports claim The group is now in Port Harcourt. There’s been no word on another nine foreigners are still being held.
‘Hostages released’ in Nigeria
ABC Online, Australia - The Yonhap news agency has quoted South Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister, Kim Ho-young, as saying the hostages were released after talks with their kidnappers. …
Hostages released in Nigeria after negotiations
Focus News, Bulgaria - The Philippines on Monday had rejected appeals to negotiate directly with the gunmen, who have not been identified. Foreign Undersecretary Esteban Conejos …
South Korea’s state-run news agency Yonhap quoted government officials confirming the release and saying that the men were exhausted but safe.
Three of the hostages were executives from Daewoo Engineering and Construction and eight Filipino workers from the same company, were kidnapped last Thursday after a gunfight at their construction site in the southern Rivers State.
The kidnapped Koreans include Chung Tae-Young, a 52-year-old Daewoo managing director who was on a business trip to the area, and two top Daewoo officials in Nigeria, according to Daewoo spokesman Huh Hyon. It was the third time Daewoo workers have been taken hostage in Nigeria.
Police in the Philippines think a earlier attempt to bomb a police station on April -and – The suspect they have in that failed attack on a Police Station is behind todays bombing of a billard hall at the Tucurong City market
- Police are hunting down is id ntified as Edris Sabal for the failed bombing. Sabal is suspected of having links to the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists from Indonesia led by Umar Patek and Dulmatin – both men are on the US governments most wanted terrorist lists.
Today’s bombing followed the discovery of another explosive in Banga, South Cotabato on Friday.
As well as a Bomb being dellivered exploding on a motorcycle as would be bombers tried to transport it. two men were killed in the blast.
The blast Tuesday comes six days before the Philippine midterm elections and two weeks after the US, UK, and Austalian embassies in Manila warned its citizens to avoid going to public areas in Mindanao after it received information of an imminent terrorist threat.
JI terrorists, politics could be behind Tacurong blast – report
GMA news.tv, Philippines - Meanwhile, as of 9:30 pm Tuesday, there had been no travel advisory from foreign embassies in the Philippines due to the blast. – GMANews.TV.
Tacurong has been targeted by bomb attacks in recent years,
In January 2003, eight people were killed while 33 others, two of them children, were critically wounded after an unidentified man hurled a grenade at the city’s plaza filled with New Year revelers. Two months later, another blast in Tacurong killed a man and wounded two others. In October 2006, two people died and at least four people were injured when a bomb went off at a public market in the city.
Five killed in bomb attack in southern Philippines Reuters AlertNet
At least three dead in bomb blast in southern Philippines (Roundup) Monsters and Critics.com
Five Killed in Bomb Attack in Southern Philippines Javno.hr
all 19 news articles »
It is known as part of area called the ‘classroom’ by counter terrorism experts in Asia. A majority Christian city that was built on the outskirts of large American agribusiness plantations of Dole and Del Monte – aside from successful bomb attempts over 70 foiled attempts have been foiled and items recovered show a roadmap of bomb making that reaches Iraq, Afghanistan, and, Indonesia – based – on bomb designs. A large number of IED R&D design work is done in the area which is about a two hour drive from a major rebel conflict zone.
The 90 day long Philippine election campaign period for the mid term polls for Congressional and local positions has so far resulted in 75 election related murders.
A briefing given by the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported.
“The PNP, as of May 1 the fatalities included two lawmakers (congressmen), a vice-governor, two mayors, three city councilors, 19 village chairmen and 16 village officials.” Senior Supt. Samuel Pagdilao Jr added that, “Another 32 casualties were supporters of the political candidates or civilians who happened to be in the area when the attacks took place.”.
Police officials however are quick to point out that 75 election related murders however violent this may seem is actually an improvement over past elections. “The number of casualties is still low compared to the 189 reported killed and 279 wounded in the 2004 campaign period”. PNP Spokesman Gen. Pagdilao clarified; overall the situation has improved since the last election.
Partly the decision by the Philippine election commission or COMELEC to place 60 cities and municipalities and two provinces were placed under ‘Comelec control is seen by Police as major reason for the drop in half violent incidents and killings.
Far from Over: 2 weeks till Election Day .
The Philippines Police is at a higher alert level during the election period with assault teams backing up armed police in the streets and mobile and fixed checkpoints spread throughout several areas of COMELEC control.
In part to keep warring political factions with heavily armed bodyguards from clashing, “417 cities and municipalities tagged as areas of immediate concern while 216 cities and municipalities were listed areas of concern.”.
Political clans and Warlord Politics:
In some parts of the Country there are those who still rule ‘warlord style’ a throwback to the 1950′s over parts of the country far from the public eye, In some cases even in urban areas with either private militias of bodyguards or often using, ‘active duty’ Military or Policemen.
To the “private Warriors’ whose pay and lifestyle are augmented by the nearly feudal system of old ‘Politics of patronage’.
But while these groups are often in far flung areas.
It is when rival political groups clash the outcome can be extremely violent. In the Central Luzon Province of Nueva Ecjica, an example of what happens when heavily armed political groups cross paths was displayed the often ugly side of ‘politics of the gun’ at it’s worst.
“The shootout in Jaen, Nueva Ecija between the camps of Nueva Ecija congressman Rodolfo Antonino and former Jaen Mayor Antonio Esquivel left four people dead and 14 more wounded – one of the bloodiest election related incidents this campaign.” Babe Romoldez, a columnist of Philippine Star newspaper wrote in in a Op-Ed piece, ” There’s no question a lot of business activity depends on the result of the elections, but of equal concern is for the process to be perceived as clean and honest. Unfortunately, election-related violence is getting more intense, “
The clash between warring political groups has led led to the deployment of 1,000 combat troops to the province and COMELEC (Commission of Elections) control.
In another election related killing a Mayor attending a complaint haring was gunned down on the streets of the Philippines second largest city of Cebu, while even on the campaign trail – violence has become part of the campaign, “Another violent incident involves San Carlos City, Pangasinan mayor Julian Resuello, who was fatally shot during a rally on Saturday. This further intensified perceptions that election violence is getting out of hand”
Local Government Politcal reform urged:
Political patronage which according to some of the top leaders of major LGU’s is often funded by graft ridden political cronyism and illegal ‘rackets’ that is typical at the local level of Government in areas far from the capitol – and – even sometimes in towns and cities of the major metropolitan zenes.
Barely two weeks remains in the campaign till election day on May 14th, In the last week the violence has escalated with 22 new incidents reported – this coming alongside three active insurgent groups clashes with government forces has led the US, UK, and Australia as well as many EU countries to issue warnings to their nationals living or visiting the Philippines to exercise extreme caution and avoid all Political gatherings.
“It is a cycle that needs to be broken, Political leaders to stay in power are expected by the people to hand out ‘favors’, You need funds to do this – so those not wealthy enough become forced to fund these activities with graft. Which leads to ineffective projects and governance,” A leading local official said on condition of anonymity, “Reforms are needed at the local level of politics too, or in the end it will be warfare every time there is an election as groups battle for control of local economies through political feuds and violence.”
With 75 Dead and 12 days to go and at least another week till winning candidates will be proclaimed the danger of more violence looms of violence is in the air already as political rivals claim victory amidst threats of more violence if their candidates do not win.
‘The threats of violence echo all the way down line from all sides of the politcal spectrum if they don’t win from the leaders at the top down to the lowest councilor.’ A senior national police official declining to be named told the author, “I’m more worried about what happens after the votes are counted and how that goes – if it goes bad – scenes of violence on large scale in some places might happen.’
Police officials privately fear the worst but say they expect if the polls are credible post-election violence ‘Won’t happen’. One thing is certain, as the frenzied campaign period is nearing climax, expect election-related deaths to soar as the Philippine Political warfare nears the homestretch.
It was a strange read but somewhat a fact of life for expatriates here in the Philippines to steer clear of street protests and election rallies taking place in the country.
It is actually a crime for any foreigner to take part in actively the Political process and only properly registered foreign journalists, as well as political observers and diplomats are allowed into polling places. So picture taking is however jovial or festive it may seem is something to do outside of polling places – also to avoid any potential problems – never inside anywhere voting is taking place for foreigners.
I know a lot of foreign tourists often do picture tking and make vacation event out of looking in and seeing for themselves. There is very little risk – most place are very secure – but… ‘be careful or avoid it if you can.” per US, UK, EU, and most other government embassy websites.
Also any financial support is banned, no mater how worthy the cause may seem. If you are an expat here – this is a good time to take a shopping trip to Subic or Clark trade zones – or perhaps try the budget fares to Singapore or HK or go on vacation at some island resort. However the new warning is specific also about the last part of the suggestions I have made – a warning – versus remote island resorts and dive boats.
 “…“Mid-term elections will be held in the Philippines on 14 May 2007. There is the potential for politically-motivated violence during the election period,” it said in its advisory (www.britishembassy.gov.uk).
The UK advisory came a week after the Australian government issued a similar advisory warning its citizens against going to political rallies. …”  http://www.Gmanews.tv
Sadly both the US and UK gave a blanket warning on the entire Mindanao region. US official persons- ie diplomats and aid workers – now need special permission to travel anywhere in Mindanao per US embassy release.
A bit of overkill – While there are trouble spots – the entire island half the size of the England is far from being a trouble zone – some parts – but not all. It should be revised to be more specific. Davao City and General Santos as well as Cagayan de Oro are while sometimes ‘eventful’ hardly conflict zones. Also thousands of US nationals live these areas. both Fil-Am and otherwise.
” … people who reside in or visit areas that face terrorist threats,
such as in Mindanao, travel with their own security force, avoid an
obvious presence, or both. In some areas of the Philippines,
especially in Mindanao, visitors should avoid travel at night outside
metropolitan areas. U.S. Government employees must seek special
permission for travel to Mindanao or the Sulu Archipelago. When
traveling in Mindanao, U.S. official travelers attempt to lower their
profile, limit their length of stay, and exercise extreme caution. …” 
US embassy travel warning
Actually Compton and other gang filled cities in Los Angeles county and say North Las Vegas or San Francisco’s Hunter point area at night probably are more violent on a friday night than Davao City or any major city in Mindanao. The US attitude however is to err on the side caution always in its warnings after nine – eleven but to lable the entire region as risky – would be like saying – Jersey City is dangerous because of organized crime.
Political rallies can be colorful and often are a highlight of entertainment and public speaking by leaders in locals communities – watching from a distance might be safer – large crowds often can be unpredictable – and – pickpockets and petty crime is sometimes a problem. Violence is also a risk. IED bomb attacks numbered 98 last yar alone throughout the Philippines – although most were in areas of conflict in Southern Mindanao’s Sulu Islands. Philippine security forces defused double that number through out the country preventing over 100 attacks – hence – yes – bombs are a real risk and large crowds pose a tempting target. One need only remember the Madrid train bombings which happened just days before Spanish elections to see that risk as real and not imagined.
A similar plot was fouled by Police a few days before – Madrid’s deadly attacks – when 80 ready to use back-pack bombs werer uncovered along with RPG BP40 rockets in very suburban wuezon city in 2004. One bomb did get thrugh and destroyed a huge inter island ferry that same year during the 2006 super ferry bombing which killed 100.
Election related violence is a key issue in many races – throughout the country.
I think what embassy’s are doing are just taking precautions for their nationals sake and trying to be as safe rather than sorry – but – still perhaps more detailed warnings rather than blanket alerts would be better. To be honest with you there are I times when traveling in say Cotabato and Maguidanao I feel safer than in some parts of South Central LA at night. MS13 for example has killed more people than the Abu Sayyaf has this year – and – other gang related killings have made many US cities as war torn as Afghanistan without the IED’s and roadside bombs-. So safety is relative to where you are a college campus in Virgina or a street in Manila its always good to be safe and secure.
Another topic noted the threat of terror attacks during the elections was a possible event to be mindful of as groups might use security forces preoccupation with the election process as a chance to sow terror.
“…“We continue to believe that terrorists and criminal elements plan to kidnap foreign tourists from islands and coastal areas in the southern Philippines – i.e. Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago. Kidnappings from other parts of the Philippines cannot be discounted. Boats traveling to and from offshore islands and dive sites are possible targets,” “ . British embassy warning
“… U.S. citizens contemplating travel to the Philippines should carefully onsider the risks to their safety and security while there, including those due to terrorism. While travelers may encounter such threats nywhere in the Philippines, the southern island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago are of particular concern. Travelers should exercise extreme caution in both central and western Mindanao as well as in the Sulu Archipelago.
Kidnap for ransom gangs operate in the Philippines. In January 2007,
one such gang abducted two U.S. citizen children outside their home in
Tagum City, Davao Del Norte, in Mindanao. The New People’s Army
(NPA), another terrorist organization, operates in many rural areas of
the Philippines, including in the northern island of Luzon. While it
has not targeted westerners in several years, the NPA could threaten
U.S. citizens engaged in business or property management activities,
and it often demands “revolutionary taxes.”
Terrorist groups, such as the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Jema’ah
Islamiyah, and groups that have broken away from the more mainstream Moro Islamic Liberation Front or Moro National Liberation Front have carried out bombings resulting in deaths, injuries and property damage.
Recent incidents have occurred in urbanized areas in
Mindanao. On January 10, 2007, separate bombings in the cities of
Kidapawan, Cotabato and General Santos killed seven people and injured 1. While these incidents do not appear to have targeted Westerners or Western interests, travelers should remain vigilant and avoid ongregating in public areas.
Many people who reside in or visit areas that face terrorist threats,
such as in Mindanao, travel with their own security force, avoid an
obvious presence, or both. In some areas of the Philippines,
especially in Mindanao, visitors should avoid travel at night outside
metropolitan areas. U.S. Government employees must seek special
permission for travel to Mindanao or the Sulu Archipelago. When
traveling in Mindanao, U.S. official travelers attempt to lower their
profile, limit their length of stay, and exercise extreme caution.
The Department strongly encourages Americans in the Philippines to
register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Manila
through the State Department’s travel registration website,
https://travelregistration.state.gov. The U.S. Embassy is located at:
1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila, Philippines, tel. 63-2-528-6300. The
Consular American Citizen Services (ACS) section’s fax number is
63-2-522-3242 and the ACS web page is at
http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/rp1/wwwhmain.html. … “
In a report by the US Department of State to the US congress has revealed that terrorism has increased over 25% year on year and fatalities have increased by forty per cent.
The figures put into perspective the figures and deaths that while often inder reproted in media there i a major conflict on at World War Level that many in media often chose to ignore. Some 74,543 civilians were targeted.
“… In the annual report to Congress includes analysis from the National Counterterrorism Center, a U.S. intelligence clearinghouse, which found only a slight increase in the overall number of civilians killed, injured or kidnapped by terrorists in 2006. But the attacks were more frequent and deadlier, with a 25 percent jump in the number of terrorist attacks and a 40 percent increase in civilian fatalities from the previous year.
In 2006, NCTC reported, there were a total of 14,338 terrorist attacks around the world. These attacks targeted 74,543 civilians and resulted in 20,498 deaths. …”
Iraq: Center of global terrorism action
The report clearly shows that the center of the attacks is Iraq: ” Violence in Iraq accounted for 45 percent of the overall attacks counted by NCTC and 65 percent of worldwide terrorism deaths. Terrorist incidents in Iraq nearly doubled from 3,468 in 2005 to 6,630 in 2006. “
It went on further to say : “Although kidnappings declined by 50 percent internationally, Iraq experienced a 300 percent increase, according to NCTC.” an indication as shown by experience here in the Philippines that KFR and terrorism are linked. Kidnapping for Ransom is often used by terror groups and in some cases insurgents as means to both ensure community ‘cooperation’ and also a means to raise revenue.
The Philippines: ” the ‘Success’ story in war vs. terror’
The 2006 US State Department global report on counter terrorism praises the country citing “‘the Philippines” as among others in the region who are, ” playing leading roles in confronting threats from groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf.”
 ” Philippines
The Philippines, one of the earliest supporters of the War on Terror, continued its bilateral and multilateral counterterrorism efforts. In August, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) launched “Operation Ultimatum”, a concerted effort to capture or kill the top Jemaah Islamiya (JI) and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) operatives on Jolo Island in the South. The operation has been highly successful to date as a number of ASG and JI members have been captured or killed since its inception. Philippine forces recently eliminated both Khadaffy Janjalani, the nominal leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group, and ASG spokesperson, Abu Solaiman. Operation Ultimatum is one feature of a U.S.- assisted strategy to strengthen the rule of law in the Sulu archipelago. Joint U.S.-Philippines military exercises know as “Balikatan” supported the Philippine government’s campaign to separate terrorists from the general population and diminish support for their cause. The Antiterrorism Task Force arrested, captured, or killed 88 suspected terrorists, and seized over 900 kilograms of explosive materials. Philippine authorities also made some progress in tracking, blocking, and seizing terrorists’ assets.
Despite some successes, major evidentiary and procedural obstacles in the Philippines continued to hinder the building of effective terrorism cases. A large and growing case backlog and the absence of consistent trials against terrorists were impediments to the prosecution of suspected terrorists. Despite plans dating back to 2001, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had yet to introduce a digitized, machine-readable passport. While the Philippines cooperated with U.S. requests for prosecutions for persons who had tampered or altered travel documents, the prosecutions carried low-level penalties for those convicted of such fraud. In addition, there was a reluctance to investigate or charge vendors or users of false documents. Under current Philippine law, the suspect must present the fraudulent document to a Philippine government authority in order for a crime to have been committed. At year’s end, a counterterrorism bill approved in April by the House of Representatives remained in the Senate.
The Philippines experienced 93 bombings, ranging from improvised explosive devices and grenades to landmines, including:
- In February, the bombing of a karaoke bar located near a Philippine military base in Jolo left one dead and 22 injured.
- In March, a bomb exploded at the Sulu Consumers Cooperative in Jolo killing nine people and injuring 20.
- In June, a roadside bombing in Shariff Aguak killed three people and injured eight.
- In August, two bombs exploded almost simultaneously in Kidapawan City injuring three people.
- In September, a bomb exploded at a public market in General Santos City killing two people and injuring six.
- In October, a bomb exploded near the headquarters of the Sulu Philippine National Police in Jolo injuring two persons.
- In a separate October attack, three bombs exploded in Tacurong, Sultan Kudurat; Makilala, North Cotabato; and Cotabato City killing eight people and injuring over 30.
The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) was empowered by the Philippines Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 (AMLA), as amended in 2003, to investigate and prosecute money laundering. The AMLC is the lead agency responsible for implementing the asset freeze measures called for by the UN Security Council 1267 Sanctions Committee. Under current law, however, the AMLC cannot take direct action against suspected terrorists or those supporting terrorism, but must apply for a court order to inquire into bank accounts and direct the freezing of assets and transactions. The AMLC sometimes needed several months to issue the relevant resolution to the Court of Appeals after receiving information about a newly-listed terrorist entity and circulating it to the financial institutions. The AMLC has 91 cases pending in various stages with the courts, including 34 for money laundering, 24 for civil forfeiture, and the rest pertaining to freeze orders and bank inquiries. The slow judicial process hindered efforts by the AMLC to see these cases through to conclusion; a trial can take up to seven years to complete. In April, a bilateral U.S.-Philippines Security Engagement Board (SEB) was inaugurated to address non-traditional security issues, including counterterrorism and maritime security. The SEB set the stage for the “Kapid Bisig” (Shoulder-to-Shoulder) counterterrorism framework that focused on civil affairs, capability upgrades, and support for AFP operations. The United States assisted the Philippines in establishing an interagency intelligence fusion center in Zamboanga City to support both maritime interdictions against transnational criminal/terrorist organizations, and the “coast watch” system in Mindanao, established with Australian assistance. ” 
AFGHANISTAN & South Asia attacks up:
The report also found a 50 percent increase in terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, from 491 incidents in 2005 to 749 in 2006. To defeat the resurgent threat, the report urges the international community deliver promised assistance and continue working with Afghans to build counterinsurgency capabilities, ensure legitimate and effective governance and counter a surge in narcotics cultivation.
” NCTC reported that the majority of terrorist attacks remain centered in the Middle East and South Asia, but noted that overall attacks in South Asia declined by 10 percent. ” so says the State department press release.
Child victims of attacks increase 80% increase in casualties:
Children were increasingly the victims of terrorism in 2006, with 1,800 killed or injured in attacks, an 80 percent increase from the previous year. As in 2005, government officials, teachers and journalists remain the leading professionals targeted by terrorists, according to the report.
VENEZUELA: Hugo Chavez: possible state Sponsor?
The report also claims that Venezuela’s leader may be seen as major figure in state sponsored terrorism soon, ” President Hugo Chavez has strengthened ties with Cuba and Iran and has allowed terrorist groups and drug traffickers from neighboring Colombia to cross its borders. ” says US State Department in its press release.
However looking over the report at length it did cite the cooperation of Venezuelan police in protecting the US Embassy. ” An individual claiming to be a member of an Islamic extremist group in Venezuela placed two pipe bombs outside the American Embassy in Caracas on October 23.” But went on to say, ” Venezuelan police safely disposed of the two pipe bombs and immediately made one arrest.”
The report also cited that. “The investigation by Venezuelan authorities resulted in the additional arrest of the alleged ideological leader of the group. At year’s end, both suspects remained in jail and prosecutors were pressing terrorism charges against them.” yet in other areas of ideological conflict Venezuela still supports or so the US State Department report says – Narco Terrorism and leftist rebel groups who have engaged in terror attacks versus Americans and American companies.
 “… President Hugo Chavez persisted in public criticism of U.S. counterterrorism efforts, deepened Venezuelan relationships with Iran and Cuba, and was unwilling to prevent Venezuelan territory from being used as a safe haven by the FARC and ELN, effectively flouting UN Security Council Resolutions 1373 and 1540, which form part of the legal basis of international counterterrorism efforts.
Chavez’ ideological sympathy for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) limited Venezuelan cooperation with Colombia in combating terrorism. FARC and ELN units often crossed into Venezuelan territory to rest and regroup with relative impunity. Splinter groups of the FARC and another designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, the United Self- Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), operated in various parts of Venezuela and were involved in narcotrafficking.
It remained unclear to what extent the Venezuelan government provided material support to Colombian terrorists. However, limited amounts of weapons and ammunition — some from official Venezuelan stocks and facilities — have turned up in the hands of Colombian terrorist organizations. The Venezuelan government did not systematically police the 1,400-mile Venezuelan-Colombian border to prevent the movement of groups of armed terrorists or to interdict arms or the flow of narcotics.”
The full text of Country Reports on Terrorism 2006 is available on the State Department Web site.
Julia Campbell:“robbery with homicide or rape with homicide,” -Senior Supt. Pedro Ganir police chief of Ifugao province
A grim picture is developing in the death or alleged killing of a US peace crops volunteer in the Philippines.
…Julia Campbell, the US Peace Corps volunteer who was found dead in a grave in Banaue, Ifugao, was bludgeoned by her assailant, ABS-CBN’s “Bandila” reported Thursday….” ABS-CBNNews
Police are searching for the husband of a woman who is last person to have been seen alive with Julia Campbell – who police believe is the man who was seen on two occasions and in US police terms would be described as a ‘person of interest’.
One: He was alleged to have been seen leaving the area hurriedly near the dry creek bed where her body was ‘intentionally buried’. – The same man being sought by police- was identified by three separate media reports as the husband of Grace Duntogan – who owns a small store in the area.
The same man it is alleged was reportedly seen carrying her backpack and hurriedly leaving the scene of a shallow grave where she was later discovered by Police, Army, and, civilian search teams.
Media reports from wire agencies and GMA.tv, ABS-CBNnews.com, and the Inquirer.net if put into context all point to one man – as at least having been the last person seen with her alive and also later seen hurriedly leaving her make-shift grave. all 734 news articles »
- Senior Supt. Raul Gonzales, Cordillera Administrative Region police chief, said that it appeared that Campbell was intentionally buried in the area where her body was found at a dry creek. “There was soil, sand and grass, so the burial was intentional,” Gonzales said.
- Police are seeking the husband of Grace Duntogan, 24, who recalled Campbell came to her store at around 3 p.m. on April 8 – she sold her a soft drink. Her husband was seen near her grave prior to it being discovered by a 13 yr boy now in police custody. The man is nowhere to be found according to police Senior Supt. Pedro Ganir, police chief of Ifugao province,
- Campbell’s (‘Julia’) was intentionally buried in the area where her body was found at a dry creek. “There was soil, sand and grass, so the burial was intentional,”- Senior Supt. Raul Gonzales, Cordillera Administrative Region police chief
- Police are attempting to locate a man who was reportedly seen carrying Julia Campbell’s backpack before the US Peace Corps volunteer disappeared on Easter Sunday.
In hindsight – considering locals statements in the area who claim tourism is a major source of income for them. Most do not believe either robbery or any other reason could be seen as the possible motive for Julia Campbell being killed.
A theory being raised is Campbell slipped and fell while being led by ‘a guide’. That fearing repercussions locals or a local buried her – hoping to hide the body until a time when search teams left the area. Knowing that they would be blamed by locals or fearing perhaps possible criminal problems.
Only a medico legal examination can truly tell – but- Diplomatic officials meddling is what should purely be criminal investigation – per local police in the area who are causing the delay in the reporting of actual scientific findings and ending speculation was at the insistence of US officials at the American embassy that a pathologist chosen from japan by the state department over advice of both US law enforcement officials based in the region and Philippine counterparts. There are FBI and Scotalnd Yard trained forensic exmainers avialble here.
Privately – many forces are at play worried that results of any investigation may affect local tourism in the area also international tourists who do bring in a lot of income to the local community.
Having grown up in a tourist town myself – I know the feeling whenever a crime or accident occurs involving a tourist.
it affects the entire local economy.
The longer the investigation results take and medical findings are released and results are given.
The entire village of Batad – not just one reisident is affected- the Banue community an entire region – not just an individual from there- stand accused of a ‘alleged crime’ and they too deserver the right to know what happened.
As well as the victims family and friends – this makes this tragedy a tougher issue for all parties and to the victim and her memory and good deeds of the past two years she did serving people in under-developed communities like the small village she tragically died in.