Archive for April, 2007

Moro Islamic Liberation Front: US troop ‘movements & sightings’ reported on Rebel website

The Moro Islamic Liberation Frontwebsite Lurwaran.com in a very short article more like a forum posting reported groups of two US troopers -in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Shariff Kabungsuan moving around the area of Mount Kabalalan.

American servicemen urged to stay in camp
[]”… A group of villagers in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Shariff Kabungsuan told Luwaran reporter recently that several American servicemen in group of twos were sighted in far-flung villages of upper Semba and Dimapatoy, this town. “They are scouring the mountain near Mount Kabalalan,” said one villager who asked not to be named, “and for what reason I do not know.”…”[]MILF webiste

The report does not say much – nor does it allege any wrong doing on the part of US forces but coming at a time of tension and fighting further south in Jolo in the Sulu Province area the report does in its headline “US servicemen urged to stay in camp’ says it all perhaps.

The MILF has about 16,000 OR so armed fighters both full time in uniform and rebel units and scores of sympathizers some of whom are hardliners. Like all large organizations it is not a monolithic one – small factions exist and some are alleged to be sympathetic to extremist groups. While the mainstream are moderate and follow the central organizational structure.

The posting is seen by some as – ‘a message’ – or so say those familiar with the way the MILF operates that says ‘they know’ – for the most part however the MILF is taking part in US, EU, and Australian funded and backed peace talks with Malaysian’s playing the role negotiators acting and the Philippine government.

It may have been the US troops – who are allowed to be armed for self defense – under a agreement with the Philippine government – may have just been in the area to asses it for future training missions or ‘medcap’ or medical civic action projects – or could have been just sight seeing – or perhaps were with Philippine troops moving about the area but the message seen is the men were sighted in a ‘sensitive area’ and the posting seems more of interesting view to the opinion of the organization than anything else.

The post has a worrisome portion on its generalization of the role of US peace corps workers – many do not understand that Peace Corps members are ‘vollenteers’ and are non-government in nature – but – ‘government funded’ aid workers.

Often times this kind of opinion can lead to problems for these aid workers and perhaps steps should be taken to clear up the misconception voiced on the website. The last paragraph in particular

I have in my work as a journalist met and traveled and interviewed in areas controlled y the MNLF and MILF and never really had any problems with the organized Moro Rebel groups however commanders often-warn of fringe groups who might seek to damage peace talks or create problems or just make a statement in areas where there is a gap between government and rebel control.

Hence the ‘warning’ this posting gives is les ominous than just a nudge saying ‘Hey be careful out there…”

– like  Hills street blues?

April 30, 2007 at 11:13 am Leave a comment

Philippines:Elections 2007 violence ‘bad but not worse than 2004’- PNP

As Filipinos are to vote for 12 senators, more than 200 congressional representatives and some 17,000 local positions.

[]”… PNP observes downtrend in poll-related violence
Philippine Information Agency, Philippines – by A. Lumaque. Roxas City (30 April) — A downtrend in election-related violence in the country has been noted by the Philippine National Police in view of …[]

The Philippines National Police per media reports has seen and is warning of an escalation in violence as polls near.

One person killed, six wounded in shooting in Philippines
Two dead, 14 wounded in shootout in northern Philippines
One wounded, two missing in new Philippine political attack
Gunmen open fire at political rally in Philippines; six wounded

In the last elections here in 2004 – the political process has traditionally been marked by election related violence. In 2004 during the presidential and national elections, more than 140 people were killed in various shootings, attacks and clashes related to the polls.

Also in the mix has been the reality that ‘third party’ groups on the fringes often use the attention diversion of Police and Military to carry out acts – such as the Dos Palmas Kidnapping – In 2001 that Terror attack was timed with the polls as the abu sayyaf used the vacuum of attention to strike.

Even now on Jolo Island heavy fighting is ongoing and in other areas stepped up attacks by insurgent and terror groups have seen an upsurge – in some cases related to the elections – leading some suspect that some local political groups are tapping or allowing themselves to be used by ‘rebel’ groups or funding those actions or so the Military and Police suspect.

PNP hunts suspect in shooting of San Carlos City mayor

PNP hunts suspect in shooting of San Carlos City mayor

1,200 police officers to patrol Manila on Labor Day

1,200 police officers to patrol Manila on Labor Day

Congressional bet Solema Jubilan accidentally shot by aide

Congressional bet Solema Jubilan accidentally shot by aide

Amidst this – Police warn of more hostilities as the election day nears as political rivalries intensify. Even however with the current level of reports of killings and violence with two weeks to go til the polls – the situation if looked at on the basis of investigated killings shows 28 election related deaths since January – although a increase in the number of incidents – less deaths than the 2004 polls with tywo weeks to go.

April 29, 2007 at 11:42 pm Leave a comment

Philippine politics:left, right, and, center all campaign on YOUTUBE

As a journalist I take no sides and always try to balance out my reporting even on my blog —- a story I did recently for a TV News organization abroad discussed the use of text, MMS, and video based web campaign technology in use this 2007 election here in the country.

It’s value for money a PC some basic digital editing and a little bit of skill as good Internet connection and anyone can campaign on-line on various free video services like YOUTUBE, GOOGLE VIDEOS, and Yahoo videos – uploading and embedding the videos on blogs, Friendster, Myspace, and elsewhere those seeking political space on the world wide web.

It seems nearly all sides in this election have discovered cyberspace as free space for TVC material on youtube this election. Party list groups Gabriella and Kabataan are the web as well as Bayan Muna.

Gabriella:

Kabataan:

From the ‘right wing’, ‘military reformist’, or, ‘rebel’ ranks of Philippine politics both Sen. Gregorio Honasan Lt SG Trillianes both seeking senate seats are on the free space provided by YOUTUBE as well.

Gregorio ‘Gringo’ Honasan:

Antonio Trillanes

Meanwhile mainstream political ads are also out there… Here’s a few:

Chiz Escudero has two spots on youtube both also on TV The Band version:

And the pro kids in school version:

On the administration front:

Migz Zubiri

The thinking voter Amigo ng Bayan version:

Chavit Singon

Who is he version:

I’ll try to ad more as I find them if you know of more please do link them in comments- I wonder if we could a ‘vote’ on the best ads and version a lot of hard work goes into making these – sometimes – its done by the candidates themselves at other-times by Film makers … Political ads are also a popular target for ‘spoofs’

I wonder when we we will start seeing some these ads ‘spoofed’ anytime soon.

April 24, 2007 at 3:09 am Leave a comment

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.

VIDEO: GMA.TV

</b> Police have child witness in Campbell case

Saksi: Police have child witness in Campbell case

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 »

  1. 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.
  2. 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,
  3. 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
  4. 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.

April 20, 2007 at 5:51 am 1 comment

Philippine Police: “Evidence indicates Peace Corps Volunteer (Julia) Campbell was killed.”

As forensic examiners are working on determining the exact time and cause of death of Julia Campbell – scene of the crime investigators from the PNP are saying the peace corps teacher was the victim of a criminal assault.

Philippine President Statement:

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is extending the Philippine government’s “full cooperation” in the United States ongoing investigation on the circumstances that led to the death of US Peace Corps volunteer Julia Campbell.

Press Secretary and concurrent Presidential Spokesperson Ignacio R. Bunye said in a statement this morning the President “is saddened” by the death of the Peace Corps worker.”The President is saddened by the death of Campbell and the government is extending its full cooperation to the US authorities in investigating the circumstances that led to it,” Bunye said. “It is unfortunate that a committed and selfless person, who has, based on the work she has done in Sorsogon, obviously grown to love our country, met a tragic end here,” he added. Campbell’s body was found Wednesday buried in a shallow grave at a dry creek in Barangay Batad, Ifugao, by one of the 40 locals who volunteered to locate Campbell after she was last seen on April 8 in a hilly area of Barangay Batad.

Campbell, who was from Fairfax, Virginia, was among the 137 US Peace Corps volunteers in the Philippines. She was a journalist for the New York Times and other various newspapers for 15 years when she decided to leave her job after the Sept. 11 World Trade Center bombing. She served in ecological and educational projects in Southern Luzon since March 2005. Her latest assignment was in Sorsogon in the Bicol region, particularly in projects for the typhoon Reming’s victims. So far, more than 8,000 Peace Corps volunteers have served the country since 1961, making the Philippines one of the oldest Peace Corps program beneficiaries in the world.

[]…” Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Oscar Calderon identified one as a male but added that investigators were still gathering information, including statements from a female masseuse that Campbell was said to have met before she disappeared. “We have to determine if she and Julia met,” Calderon said. “We also have a witness that says that more or less identified the last person seen with her. We have also an idea of the name of the person seen carrying the backpack of the victim. He’s male,” Calderon said. Calderon and Chief Superintendent Raul Gonzales, regional police director of the Cordillera Administrative Region, agreed that there was enough evidence to indicate Campbell was killed.  …”[] Inquirer.net

Statement of Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye Re: Ms. Campbell

The President is saddened by the death of Ms. Campbell and the government is extending its full cooperation to the US authorities in investigating the circumstances that led to it. It is unfortunate that a committed and selfless person, who has, based on the work she has done in Sorsogon, obviously grown to love our country, met a tragic end here.

 

Statement of the family of Julia Campbell:

Today, we learned the news that our Julia was found. We are so very grateful to the workers and searchers who worked diligently to look for and find our daughter, sister and friend. In addition to the Peace Corps, we would like to thank the Philippine National Police, the Philippine government and the people of the Philippines, especially those in Baranguay Batad, Banaue for the outpouring of support and assistance in the search.
The U.S. Peace Corps and our U.S. Embassy leadership, personnel and especially the Peace Corps volunteers in the Philippines have been of great comfort to our family during this difficult time. Director Ron Tschetter and his team exemplify the sense of community Julia loved about the Peace Corps; they have and continue to show great concern for Julia and our family.
During the past two years Julia has been on assignment in the Philippines, she served in various roles in the village of Donsol (province of Sorsogon) where she worked with the local school there to rebuild and stock the school library. Since childhood, Julia was an avid reader who enjoyed great literary works; “Sophie’s Choice” was one of her favorites. Many of her friends and family helped her in a campaign she created to provide age-appropriate reading materials to the library in a project she called “A Book and A Buck”. Through her efforts, she collected more than 500 titles. Julia, a passionate yoga instructor and vegetarian, also worked with the local community to launch an ecology awareness campaign and instrumental in building an Eco Center in Donsol. Most recently, she served as a teacher at the Divine Word College in Legaspi city, where she taught English.
In her forty years, Julia lived a very full life. She loved her family and friends and is much loved. She was passionate in her journalism reporting especially the stories involving people who were able to stand and address adversity or adverse situations.
We have every confidence that the U.S. and Philippine authorities are conducting a thorough investigation into Julia’s untimely death.
Plans are still in development for a memorial service in Fairfax County, Virginia where our family lives.

April 19, 2007 at 7:58 pm 1 comment

Philippines: Terror alert issued in wake of Bombing in central Mindanao

US State Department issues ‘warden notice’ or a terror plot warning for central mindanao in the Philippines.

This alert comes on the heels of a a earlier bomb blast last night in Coatabato City in central mindanao an area of known al qaeda linked Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiah activity.

The threat also comes as increased combat action is taking place between elements of the Philippine military and rogue elements of the Moro National Liberation Front rebels in southern Mindanao’s Sulu Province.

Philippines: 2 dead in IED blast – victims suspected bombers

Reports from Cotabato City in the southern Philippines indicates two would be bombers were killed police say when the IED they were transporting detonated prematurely on the motorcycle they were riding.

WARDEN NOTICE

Need for Caution in Central Mindanao

April 19, 2007

THE EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES IS TRANSMITTING THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION THROUGH THE EMBASSY WARDEN SYSTEM AS A PUBLIC SERVICE TO AMERICAN CITIZENS IN THE PHILIPPINES. PLEASE DISSEMINATE THIS MESSAGE TO ALL U.S. CITIZENS IN YOUR ORGANIZATION OR NEIGHBORHOOD. THANK YOU.

———————————————————————–

The Embassy has information that a terrorist group may be planning to carry out bombing attacks in central Mindanao over the next several days. Although the information does not specify a particular location, U.S. citizens should carefully consider plans to visit central Mindanao.

U.S. citizens living and working in central Mindanao are urged to reassess their personal security and to keep a low profile, and should avoid public gathering places, including high-profile events, such as the “Palarong Pambansa” Games, which will take place in Koronadal City from April 22 – 28, 2007.

For additional information, Americans should refer to the Travel Warning for the Philippines, issued June 16, 2006, as well as the Consular Information Sheet for the Philippines dated June 19, 2006.

American citizens with questions or concerns may telephone the Embassy at (63)(2) 528-6300. In case of an emergency outside business hours, American citizens may reach the Embassy duty officer through the Embassy operator at (63)(2) 528-6300. The U.S. Embassy is located at: 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila, Philippines. The Consular American Citizen Services (ACS) section’s fax number is (63)(2) 522-3242 and the ACS web page is at http://philippines.usembassy.gov/wwwh3004.html.

April 19, 2007 at 11:29 am Leave a comment

Reports: Robbery – Killing ‘seen’ in Julia Campbell death

Police in the Philippines have a ‘witness’ in protective custody in the regional command base of the PNP in Ifugao. The witness is believed to have knowledge of suspects or suspect inwho may be able to say exactly how Peace Corps Volunteer Julia Campbell died. Police manhunt launched for suspect in Campbell slay

local blogger – from the ‘Bondocs’ speaks about the risks faced by othrs in the area including a famous antropologist in the 1990’s who succumbed to a bad fall…

Video Updates on Julia Campbell

PGMA extends RP’s full cooperation in Campbell’s death probe
 

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is extending the Philippine government’s “full cooperation” in the United States ongoing investigation on the circumstances that led to the death of US Peace Corps volunteer Julia Campbell.

Press Secretary and concurrent Presidential Spokesperson Ignacio R. Bunye said in a statement this morning the President “is saddened” by the death of the Peace Corps worker.

“The President is saddened by the death of Campbell and the government is extending its full cooperation to the US authorities in investigating the circumstances that led to it,” Bunye said.

“It is unfortunate that a committed and selfless person, who has, based on the work she has done in Sorsogon, obviously grown to love our country, met a tragic end here,” he added.

Campbell’s body was found Wednesday buried in a shallow grave at a dry creek in Barangay Batad, Ifugao, by one of the 40 locals who volunteered to locate Campbell after she was last seen on April 8 in a hilly area of Barangay Batad.

Campbell, who was from Fairfax, Virginia, was among the 137 US Peace Corps volunteers in the Philippines. She was a journalist for the New York Times and other various newspapers for 15 years when she decided to leave her job after the Sept. 11 World Trade Center bombing.

She served in ecological and educational projects in Southern Luzon since March 2005. Her latest assignment was in Sorsogon in the Bicol region, particularly in projects for the typhoon Reming’s victims.

So far, more than 8,000 Peace Corps volunteers have served the country since 1961, making the Philippines one of the oldest Peace Corps program beneficiaries in the world.

April 19, 2007 at 10:42 am Leave a comment

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