April 16, 2006 at 8:41 am Leave a comment

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Bomb-plot foiled?

Easter Sunday Morning – 2006:

I was up to watch the "meeting" sulubong procession this morning on TV at about three thirty when I while waiting did my normal email search and saw something from a "stringer" of mine down in Zamboanga.

It seems in a set of Police and Military raids since last Thursday have uncovered two cache's of explosives. The first in a ice plant the second in another part of the city notorious for "illicit' activities.
C-4 explosives, 300pcs of blasting caps from of all places India and many more other electronic timers were uncovered.
A few days before in a clash a group of major ASG figures who were involved in the a 2005 bombing were "encountered" by the military on a small island off of Zambo- two were killed.


Sources in the police here tell me they believe the ASG is pushed to a new level of emulating "sectarian" violence directed at Catholics and Christians similar to activities in other areas in SE Asia like Poso and Suluwesi.

The War vs. Terrorism – is still a major story here even if in terms of attacks it pales in comparison to the battles and daily bombings in Iraq. But what is common here are arrests and seizures by Police and the Military vs. Those seeking to create violence. Success is measured in the number of arrests and devices seized.

Journalism being what it is- when ever I pitch stories about good jobs done- it winds up on some editors out pile in the USA- such a shame- with all the bad news success in the fight versus violence is something I think at least should be covered.

There is so much innovation and so much done right in keeping a lot of the attacks of balance- but – for some reason nobody – at least in the mainstream media world can seem to want to keep reporting on the good work done.

I'm cynical perhaps – but- I think this is where media seems to fail in a big way- by emphasizing only the failures – such as when a successful operation is carried out by those on the side of extremism – they fail to consider that they have become perhaps the biggest propaganda machine of the other side of the war. Ironic isn't it? Considering – that at least in my case – that's where this major conflict began for the USA.

Funny how hard it is to pitch a "good job done…" Story – perhaps its all the fault of those major journalism colleges concepts of reporting must place a high emphasis on failures first and finding conflict instead of looking for solutions along with the problems. Oh well… At least those blasting caps and devices found are out of circulation. For now police and the military here and in the southern Philippines are on renewed "heightened alert".

Friday, April 14, 2006

Sunsets…. And memories

Manila good Friday… 2006
No traffic – No Noise – No people almost in Metro Manila on the streets it is Holy Friday a
day by tradition of rest and reflection.

Sunset along the bay is coming soon…

I like sunsets and sunrises – it always reminds me of when I was kid way back when in the 1970's before my family moved to the states.

At the time we lived at a old "historic" apartment building along Manila bay – the sequia apartments near the Malate Church and just above Aristocrat – well- not really above but kind of off to one side – you could always smell the barbecued chicken and other great stuff on the menu rising up from the street below.

Holy Week then meant a trip to seven churches. Stations of the cross and moving about the area looking for new things to my then very young eyes.

Malate church has not changed that much and most of the older buildings in the district are still there standing form my childhood- I often wander the area at night.

As a reporter starting out on TV – I was "based" for a while like all new news-guys at the WPD main headquarters in Ermita.

Some of my first stories were of many events happening. Holy week often found my name on the duty roster as well. I guess they assumed with my looks and name – I less likely to want the holidays off – but being in the area on Good Friday led to many stories. At some point I have to start transferring those files – and piles of stuff on these pages….

So much… So many stories… So many things… So many sunsets and memories!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

 

Cooling off in Baguio

From the highland jewel that is Baguio City…

"Four military generals mentioned in the "Hello Garci" recordings…" have been cleared of involvement in cheating in the last national elections here in the Philippines.
"They were not involved in cheating in the 2004 presidential election, according to the findings of a military report that is to be released…" so reports the Philippine's Daily Inquirer website. inq7.net

To me ok, that's the news- but the story is how and where the report comes from that says so much more Its symbolism is "on vacation…" So things are normal in the sometimes topsy turvy world of Philippine politics and governance.

The President and her Cabinet and the reports coming from the cool "City of Pines" of Baguio, where officials are on a "Lenten retreat" a common practice for decades since the American Colonial and Commonwealth period .

Tens of thousands every year make the trek or rather the drive to escaping the sweltering heat of the lowland plains and coastline.

The summer capital of course is where so much happens on Holy Week and Easter Break its is above the plains are has of course been the "summer capital" and is now far from the little town it once was a hundred years ago.

Baguio has also been home to the only base the US Military never wanted to lose in this part of Asia! Camp John Hay- not because of strategic or military value But climate, the golf, the picture perfect lawns and those little cottages. It has long been known as the perfect rest spot

Looking at the reports coming from there -with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and other Cabinet members on work-vacation-retreat it is clearly a picture that many want to see a break from all the current tension and perhaps a respite from the daily grind of alleged coup plots and intrigue of political infighting that is sadly hurting more than helping the country.

Don't Get me wrong – I don't take sides- I am a journalist- this kind of crisis instability thing is what I cover and make al living from by reporting on it.

But there are times when my editors abroad say – What another one of those stories?
It seems not only locals are fatigued but most of the international press is as well on issues raised over and over and over anew.

Also for us in Media here in the Philippines it is a good excuse to hop up to Baguio and hope they stay a little past Easter Sunday.

It always was my favorite assignment to go up and cover- and – afterwards enjoy the night-life along session road and well wander about.

I always liked the clean easy going place that seems always so open and welcome a alternative to the rest of congestion and traffic of the Capitol Region I'm based in for 90 per cent of the time.

Nightlife has changed things were once so easy to reach- I remember heading out the places we stayed and hoping from one night spot to the next now things have evolved- and so has shopping habits with the entry of SM malls there though.

It used to be the fun of going to the market areas to buy ones needs that also made the trip more of an adventure for those of us mall bound in the metropolis – not – by choice so much as by convince. Its a shame more integration could not be done to make the Mall more market friendly and integrate some aspects of that beyond the traditional chain stores.

Anyhow – in a few hours have to cover another story and taking this break from hard news to add a little color to my usually newsy post with a little bit of the lighter side is something you can here find and view and see more often.

Couric, Erap, Coups, and Wowowie!.

The Gallop Poll the other day released figures showing-

" Only about 1 in 10 Americans say they are more likely to watch the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric in the anchor seat " –http://www.gallup.com/

So that means 30 million viewers more than they are getting now… Gallop looked at the survey figures and also noted that about the same number won't be watching- and missed the common math that means overall in the tight markets of 6pm newscasts in the US of A.

Any +30 million more people likely viewers mean a major boost for the old 6pm dinner time newscast.

They missed the point – an additional 30 million ten per cent figure in any market is more like a major boon to network news which has steadily been losing out to the Internet, Cable news channels and Cell phone based news services.

Looking at the figures there has been a rebound though in the overall numbers watching the news on network TV… Up from a low of just 36% in December of 2004; But still down from 1995 when 62 per cent said the watched the nightly newscasts of network TV.

At present at least in this survey … 45% of household's get the news from network TV News at 6pm in the USA.

TV, Radio, Cell phone based subscription and free news updates , e-mail and web site based Data casting services and other forms of new media news services has severely cut into mainstream media- blogsites like this one- ok blogsites better than this one have also taken the toll on the numbers game making it harder and harder for the major news networks in the USA to get viewers to watch TV.

Also – syndication services that offer news feeds like RSS bring the latest wire service and news content directly to PDA's and Blackberry's and cell phones as well as web enabled PC's and Laptops have also cut into the numbers game.

So Thirty Million viewers? One per cent of the population in that tight numbers game is number CBS or any network would love to get their hands on.

CBS's Coup de main or "A sudden action undertaken to surprise…" has indeed caught the news worlds attention.

Closer to where I am…. in Manila.

Coups and counter coups – both De main and De grace are the norm.

When ever I hear comments by "Digs" Dinangalen; I think of the game Diggerman I always remember that game from working late night on the overnight desk of the newsroom it and others were always the only way to keep sane while staying up overnight at the newsdesk.

Diggerman is where in a miner has to evade pursuing ghosts to get to the jewels and fruits in a maze like game making tunnels and digging to cause rocks to fall on pursuing monsters.

Well to the powers that be the recent statement by the political opposition spokesman seems to be getting attention.

A proposal of a sort that is – coups de main (defined: A sudden action undertaken to surprise… )

Ignoring "honor propio" It was the first gentleman who critiqued an idea by the "Diggerman"
for snap elections. The often outspoken semi-retired, for now, by term limitations – ex-Maguindanao Representative Didagen Dilangalen broached the idea that Deposed former President Joseph Estrada Is still a viable alternative to President Arroyo,

Dilangalen see's Estrada as the one who could lead the fragmented opposition to victory in a election; The First gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo – noted however that- Estrada lacked the one factor that would enable his leadership- a constitutional ban on his further being elected.

But what was lost on Mr. Arroyo was the diggermans idea of another "people power" as the way to bring Estrada back to power. Hence term limits being meaningless in revolutionary government – The diggerman is correct.

But perhaps Dinangalen is forgetful of images and what brought down his mentor- People power itself! The mind often blocks out bad memories and traumatic events.

Ah, but here's something to think of – if the administration is so set on amending the constitution – people power could also be a means to that end. A popular uprising to bring in a new constitution… A coups de théâtre! (defined: An unexpected and sensational event, especially one that reverses or negates a prevailing situation.)

Wait – that's coup d' etat in the truest sense meaning a coup from the top….

A coup de main is what the other side wants…

But to others of a more radical set a Coup de grace- (defined: A finishing stroke or decisive event) they see as a better means to make sure change happens.

but with the most popular pastime in the Philippine after showbiz- politics coming back into season- election seasons all coups are cast aside and people get ready to pick to the next series of players who will for them run the affiars of thier towns, cities, and districts as well as senators to weed out the parachial from the national issues… all talk of coups are cast aside.

Now – if I am not mistaken – there is another thing the Government in its rush to amend the system to a parliamentary form of government has forgeten in the haste to avoid the popular vote choice by screening people in parliment.

One proposal was to make sure all elected attend a college or get a degree in governance or already have a degree. Not a problem is country of 17,000 colleges and Universites where even taxi drivers has masters degree's!

but trying to stay on track isn't it by having a parliament in place.

All popularly elected members choose the Prime Minister, So these people the popularly elected members; then … chose – a socail filter to give the unpopular a chance?

The bottom line is anyone who can convince; if today's congressional districts are to be
a guideline – 400-500 MP's or members of parliament to vote one way or another;

Anyone could become PM who could "convince" the MP's for the vote. Right?

In my dreams … I see MP's from Showbiz filling up the Batasan and… Willy "wowowie" Revilleme as PM! And who said politics is not entraining!

Baguio… meetings

Mansion House, Baguio City

Working on a Holiday is a common thing for people
who travel to this cool summer mountain holiday spot. It gives people a chance to focus and a little less distraction to be able to plan.

This lenten seasons agenda for government is full meetings and plans and implimentation sessions and assesments.

It's typical of work of Government and people in the Palace- up away in the City of Pines the thin mountain air makes it a perfect spot to do a little deep breathing and focus on issues placed before you.

One Item I saw on the Agenda – In the Education Department it's top agenda of the moment is – The Department of Education moving forward the Basic Education Assistance to Mindanao, an Australian Gov't-assisted project, will implement the Muslim educational roadmap in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The plan is seeking to impact on some areas a more mainstream tollerant view of Islam and a way through Education opening the eyes of young muslims away from the extremist views of some groups that have slowly been entering the Madrasa system in th region – it is afterall the best way to defeat the ideology of hate by teaching peace to the young.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Arroyo shares a light moment with Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez (second from right) and other members of her Cabinet before the start of the two-day Cabinet Holy Week Retreat Tuesday (April 11) at the Mansion House Conference Hall in Baguio City. Among those in photo with the President are (from left) Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, and Government Mass Media Group Head Cerge Remonde (partly hidden, second row from right). (Oliver Marquez — OPS-NIB Photo) Good plan… good idea… books and ideas are cheaper than the alternative.

Baguio Cathedral Easter Sunday is where in the last few years the Annual message is made by the President and her official family.

I remember at the hieght of the SARS scare when they issued the statements to prove – and – rightly so that while there were health problems – the situation was not that bad.

It did have a good effect- and more aide to help the victims of the outbreak was speeded to the region at that time.

So far it's been a quiet time – ok a little bit of politcs is the normal situation.

Other issues on the press release pile today :

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's economic reform agenda are producing results.
Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said the dollar, gold and other foreign currencies held by the BSP hit a new all-time high of $20.84B at the end of March brought about by strong investment inflows and remittances form Filipinos working overseas.On the politcal front –

Cagayan de Oro City (13 April) — Malacañang said snap elections are not the answer to our poisoned political atmosphere but a decision by an enlightened public to do away with and change the degenerated system.Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the wound of the nation will never be healed if the opposition insists on personality change rather than institutional change. "The attacks on President Arroyo strike at the foundations of duly constituted authority and provide fodder for destabilization attempts," he said.He added that the Arroyo presidency shall continue to be the bedrock of political and economic stability and as a spearhead for reform for change."Snap polls have never been, and shall never be within our options. The opposition can try all they can, but we will not be a party to snapping the people's hope for a better future." Bunye said.

I talk about this more on an earlier blog….

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