Posts filed under ‘East Timor’

Houston’s Mindanao car theft connection – mikeinmanila.com

Houston you’ve got a problem: Hot cars, bikes, seized in Mindanao

Cars allegedly among those seized in major US Philipine Anti-GTA operation in Cagayan de Oro.

In what US and Philippine authorities are calling, “One of the most successful joint operations,” versus stolen cars from the USA to Asia; 25 cars and 18 Super-bikes are now in the custody of the Philippine National Police. In total; the National Bureau of Investigation agent in charge for northern Mindanao told a local newspaper in Cagayan de Oro, while Police in Davao City are also looking into if any of the cars or bikes had reached the largest city in Mindanao.

May 9, 2011 at 6:31 pm Leave a comment

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

Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Council on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions

Philippine Military reaction: Inquirer.net on youtube

Report of Professor Phillip Alston, Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Council on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. Manila, 21 February 2007

Comments on you tube: Inquirer.net on youtube

TEXT of formal statement:

I have spent the past ten days in the Philippines at the invitation of the Government in order to inquire into the phenomenon of extrajudicial executions. I am very grateful to the Government for the unqualified cooperation extended to me.

During my stay here I have met with virtually all of the relevant senior officials of Government. They include the President, the Executive Secretary, the National Security Adviser, the Secretaries for Defense, Justice, DILG and the Peace Process. I have also met with a significant number of members of Congress on different sides of the political spectrum, the Chief Justice, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Chair of the Human Rights Commission, the Ombudsman, the members of both sides of the Joint Monitoring Committee, and representatives of the MNLF and MILF.

Of particular relevance to my specific concerns, I also met with Task Force Usig, and with the Melo Commission, and I have received the complete dossier compiled by TF Usig, as well as the report of the Melo Commission, and the responses to its findings by the AFP and by retired Maj-Gen Palparan. I have also visited Baguio and Davao and met with the regional Human Rights Commission offices, local PNP and AFP commanders, and the Mayor of Davao, among others.

Equally importantly, roughly half of my time here was devoted to meetings with representatives of civil society, in Manila, Baguio, and Davao . Through their extremely valuable contributions in the form of documentation and detailed testimony I have learned a great deal.

Let me begin by acknowledging several important elements. The first is that the Government’s invitation to visit reflects a clear recognition of the gravity of the problem, a willingness to permit outside scrutiny, and a very welcome preparedness to engage on this issue. The assurances that I received from the President, in particular, were very encouraging. Second, I note that my visit takes place within the context of a counter-insurgency operation which takes place on a range of fronts, and I do not in any way underestimate the resulting challenges facing for the Government and the AFP. Third, I wish to clarify that my formal role is to report to the UN Human Rights Council and to the Government on the situation I have found. I consider that the very fact of my visit has already begun the process of acting as a catalyst to deeper reflection on these issues both within the national and international settings. Finally, I must emphasize that the present statement is only designed to give a general indication of some, but by no means all, of the issues to be addressed, and the recommendations put forward, in my final report. I expect that will be available sometime within the next three months.

Sources of information

The first major challenge for my mission was to obtain detailed and well supported information. I have been surprised by both the amount and the quality of information provided to me. Most key Government agencies are organized and systematic in much of their data collection and classification. Similarly, Philippines civil society organizations are generally sophisticated and professional. I sought, and obtained, meetings across the entire political spectrum. I leave the Philippines with a wealth of information to be processed in the preparation of my final report.

But the question has still been posed as to whether the information provided to me by either all, or at least certain, local NGO groups can be considered reliable. The word ‘propaganda’ was used by many of my interlocutors. What I took them to mean was that the overriding goal of the relevant groups in raising EJE questions was to gain political advantage in the context of a broader battle for public opinion and power, and that the HR dimensions were secondary at best. Some went further to suggest that many of the cases were fabricated, or at least trumped up, to look more serious than they are.

I consider it essential to respond to these concerns immediately. First, there is inevitably a propaganda element in such allegations. The aim is to win public sympathy and to discredit other actors. But the existence of a propaganda dimension does not, in itself, destroy the credibility of the information and allegations. I would insist, instead, on the need to apply several tests relating to credibility. First, is it only NGOs from one part of the politicaI spectrum who are making these allegations? The answer is clearly ‘no’.

Human rights groups in the Philippines range across the entire spectrum in terms of their political sympathies, but I met no groups who challenged the basic fact that large numbers of extrajudicial executions are taking place, even if they disagreed on precise figures. Second, how compelling is the actual information presented? I found there was considerable variation ranging from submissions which were entirely credible and contextually aware all the way down to some which struck me as superficial and dubious. But the great majority are closer to the top of that spectrum than to the bottom. Third, has the information proved credible under cross-examination’. My colleagues and I heard a large number of cases in depth and we probed the stories presented to us in order to ascertain their accuracy and the broader context.

As a result, I believe that I have gathered a huge amount of data and certainly much more than has been made available to any one of the major national inquiries.

Extent of my focus

My focus goes well beyond that adopted by either TF Usig or the Melo Commission, both of which are concerned essentially with political and media killings. Those specific killings are, in many ways, a symptom of a much more extensive problem and we should not permit our focus to be limited artificially. The TF Usig/Melo scope of inquiry is inappropriate for me for several reasons:

(a) The approach is essentially reactive. It is not based on an original assessment of what is going on in the country at large, but rather on what a limited range of CSOs report. As a result, the focus then is often shifted (unhelpfully) to the orientation of the CSO, the quality of the documentation in particular cases, etc.;

(b) Many killings are not reported, or not pursued, and for good reason; and

(c) A significant proportion of acknowledged cases of ‘disappearances’ involve individuals who have been killed but who are not reflected in the figures.

How many have been killed?

The numbers game is especially unproductive, although a source of endless fascination. Is it 25, 100, or 800? I don’t have a figure. But I am certain that the number is high enough to be distressing. Even more importantly, numbers are not what count. The impact of even a limited number of killings of the type alleged is corrosive in many ways. It intimidates vast numbers of civil society actors, it sends a message of vulnerability to all but the most well connected, and it severely undermines the political discourse which is central to a resolution of the problems confronting this country.

Permit me to make a brief comment on the term ‘unexplained killings’, which is used by officials and which I consider to be inapt and misleading. It may be appropriate in the context of a judicial process but human rights inquiries are more broad-ranging and one does not have to wait for a court to secure a conviction before one can conclude that human rights violations are occurring. The term ‘extrajudicial killings’ which has a long pedigree is far more accurate and should be used.

Typology

It may help to specify the types of killing which are of particular concern in the Philippines:

– Killings by military and police, and by the NPA or other groups, in course of counter-insurgency. To the extent that such killings take place in conformity with the rules of international humanitarian law they fall outside my mandate.

– Killings not in the course of any armed engagement but in pursuit of a specific counter-insurgency operation in the field.

– Killings, whether attributed to the military, the police, or private actors, of activists associated with leftist groups and usually deemed or assumed to be covertly assisting CPP-NPA-NDF. Private actors include hired thugs in the pay of politicians, landowners, corporate interests, and others.

– Vigilante, or death squad, killings

– Killings of journalists and other media persons.

– ‘Ordinary’ murders facilitated by the sense of impunity that exists.

Response by the Government

The response of Government to the crisis of extrajudicial executions varies dramatically. There has been a welcome acknowledgement of the seriousness of the problem at the very top. At the executive level the messages have been very mixed and often unsatisfactory. And at the operational level, the allegations have too often been met with a response of incredulity, mixed with offence.

Explanations proffered

When I have sought explanations of the killings I have received a range of answers.

(i) The allegations are essentially propaganda. I have addressed this dimension already.

(ii) The allegations are fabricated. Much importance was attached to two persons who had been listed as killed, but who were presented to me alive. Two errors, in circumstances which might partly explain the mistakes, do very little to discredit the vast number of remaining allegations.

(iii) The theory that the ‘correct, accurate, and truthful’ reason for the recent rise in killings lies in purges committed by the CPP/NPA. This theory was relentlessly pushed by the AFP and many of my Government interlocutors. But we must distinguish the number of 1,227 cited by the military from the limited number of cases in which the CPP/NPA have acknowledged, indeed boasted, of killings. While such cases have certainly occurred, even those most concerned about them, such as members of Akbayan, have suggested to me that they could not amount to even 10% of the total killings.

The evidence offered by the military in support of this theory is especially unconvincing. Human rights organizations have documented very few such cases. The AFP relies instead on figures and trends relating to the purges of the late 1980s, and on an alleged CPP/NPA document captured in May 2006 describing Operation Bushfire. In the absence of much stronger supporting evidence this particular document bears all the hallmarks of a fabrication and cannot be taken as evidence of anything other than disinformation.

(iv) Some killings may have been attributable to the AFP, but they were committed by rogue elements. There is little doubt that some such killings have been committed. The AFP needs to give us precise details and to indicate what investigations and prosecutions have been undertaken in response. But, in any event, the rogue elephant theory does not explain or even address the central questions with which we are concerned.

Some major challenges for the future

(a) Acknowledgement by the AFP
The AFP remains in a state of almost total denial (as its official response to the Melo Report amply demonstrates) of its need to respond effectively and authentically to the significant number of killings which have been convincingly attributed to them. The President needs to persuade the military that its reputation and effectiveness will be considerably enhanced, rather than undermined, by acknowledging the facts and taking genuine steps to investigate. When the Chief of the AFP contents himself with telephoning Maj-Gen Palparan three times in order to satisfy himself that the persistent and extensive allegations against the General were entirely unfounded, rather than launching a thorough internal investigation, it is clear that there is still a very long way to go.

(b) Moving beyond the Melo Commission
It is not for me to evaluate the Melo Report. That is for the people of the Philippines to do. The President showed good faith in responding to allegations by setting up an independent commission. But the political and other capital that should have followed is being slowly but surely drained away by the refusal to publish the report. The justifications given are unconvincing. The report was never intended to be preliminary or interim. The need to get ‘leftists’ to testify is no reason to withhold a report which in some ways at least vindicates their claims. And extending a Commission whose composition has never succeeded in winning full cooperation seems unlikely to cure the problems still perceived by those groups. Immediate release of the report is an essential first step.

(c) The need to restore accountability
The focus on TF Usig and Melo is insufficient. The enduring and much larger challenge is to restore the various accountability mechanisms that the Philippines Constitution and Congress have put in place over the years, too many of which have been systematically drained of their force in recent years. I will go into detail in my final report, but suffice it to note for present purposes that Executive Order 464, and its replacement, Memorandum Circular 108, undermine significantly the capacity of Congress to hold the executive to account in any meaningful way.

(d) Witness protection
The vital flaw which undermines the utility of much of the judicial system is the problem of virtual impunity that prevails. This, in turn, is built upon the rampant problem of witness vulnerability. The present message is that if you want to preserve your life expectancy, don’t act as a witness in a criminal prosecution for killing. Witnesses are systematically intimidated and harassed. In a relatively poor society, in which there is heavy dependence on community and very limited real geographical mobility, witnesses are uniquely vulnerable when the forces accused of killings are all too often those, or are linked to those, who are charged with ensuring their security. The WPP is impressive — on paper. In practice, however, it is deeply flawed and would seem only to be truly effective in a very limited number of cases. The result, as one expert suggested to me, is that 8 out of 10 strong cases, or 80% fail to move from the initial investigation to the actual prosecution stage.

(e) Acceptance of the need to provide legitimate political space for leftist groups
At the national level, there has been a definitive abandonment of President Ramos’ strategy of reconciliation. This might be termed the Sinn Fein strategy. It involves the creation of an opening — the party-list system — for leftist groups to enter the democratic political system, while at the same time acknowledging that some of those groups remain very sympathetic to the armed struggle being waged by illegal groups (the IRA in the Irish case, or the NPA in the Philippines case). The goal is to provide an incentive for such groups to enter mainstream politics and to see that path as their best option.

Neither the party-list system nor the repeal of the Anti-Subversion Act has been reversed by Congress. But, the executive branch, openly and enthusiastically aided by the military, has worked resolutely to circumvent the spirit of these legislative decisions by trying to impede the work of the party-list groups and to put in question their right to operate freely. The idea is not to destroy the NPA but to eliminate organizations that support many of its goals and do not actively disown its means. While non-violent in conception, there are cases in which it has, certainly at the local level, spilled over into decisions to extrajudicially execute those who cannot be reached by legal process.

(f) Re-evaluate problematic aspects of counter-insurgency strategy
The increase in extrajudicial executions in recent years is attributable, at least in part, to a shift in counterinsurgency strategy that occurred in some areas, reflecting the considerable regional variation in the strategies employed, especially with respect to the civilian population. In some areas, an appeal to hearts- and-minds is combined with an attempt to vilify left-leaning organizations and to intimidate leaders of such organizations. In some instances, such intimidation escalates into extrajudicial execution. This is a grave and serious problem and one which I intend to examine in detail in my final report.

Conclusion

The Philippines remains an example to all of us in terms of the peaceful ending of martial law by the People’s Revolution, and the adoption of a Constitution reflecting a powerful commitment to ensure respect for human rights. The various measures ordered by the President in response to Melo constitute important first steps, but there is a huge amount that remains to be done.

Gen. Esperon’s statement inquirer.net on youtube:

February 23, 2007 at 11:35 am Leave a comment

Korea Issues travel warning: Philippines & Indonesia

The Government of the single largest group of Asian tourists of late to stream to these islands, Korea has issued a terror warning on travel to both the Philippines and Indonesia citing reports of possible terrorism related activities in the two countries.

Travel Warnings for Indonesia, Philippines
Korea Times, South Korea –
The National Intelligent Service (NIS) has advised people not to travel to the Philippines and Indonesia till the end of October,

If there is something up and Koreans know about it. One wonders at the wording and group described in the report as per the Korean National Intelligence service as seen as behind this warning:

[] ” … the threat of terrorism is rising after the New People’s Army (NPA) attacked the Philippine military on Aug. 8 and information was uncovered detailing a plot to blow up Manila’s financial area and hotels in mid-August.

Western facilities or foreigners themselves have been terrorist targets and the NIS had previously warned people against visiting those facilities and tourist attractions. Security has been tightened around hotels and tourist spots in the two countries. …” [] Korea Times

The source if not the normal route of things which usually  show actions taken by groups more from the extremists of JI or the Abu Sayyaf. Per Government sources tonight Friday in manila – they are taking precautions- some groups see as economic strong points of government – financial districts BPO centers and Tourism locations.

But, then again when your next door neighbor is the other half a country divided in fifty years of war by ideology- it may see other groups as more threatening than the ASG or JI or others more known for bomb attacks.

One wonders if the Korean tourists will heed the warnings. Either way attack or not it will affect the tourism trade somewhat. Korea is not known to issue advisory’s lightly.
Such a shame though that not more specific information – such as the extent of the threat and risk.

While one can never really blame any country for taking precautions vs. clear and present information of danger – perhaps more direct information would not make an entire country ‘a no-go or go with extreme caution” set of places.

 

August 25, 2006 at 7:38 pm 1 comment

A time I was a DJ called Mikey…

All of this seems so ‘bogus’ now – (more…)

August 23, 2006 at 1:40 am Leave a comment

An appeal

Like my posts being electric – I know my readership is also eclectic as well with a lot of reach into lot of places. Anything anyone can do to help in this case mentioned by Mediabistro would be a great help. I hope pray and feel for these men and thier families.

(more…)

August 19, 2006 at 1:02 am Leave a comment

Help Lebanon:Manila based aid group for OFW’s & Lebanese

googleb4180c9851226a40.html At a meeting held in Manila’s Makati district groups of Filipino & Expat organizations are working together to seek out ways they can Helpl

The goal is to find ways to assist people in Lebanon by doing their part to make themselves available for those people in need. It’s not Politics, here or there. (more…)

August 18, 2006 at 1:18 am Leave a comment

Older Posts


New Domain

RSS fox news

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS ABS-CBN News online – “Da Family”

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS FNC World News wires…

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS FYI TV . Net

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Blog Stats

  • 194,508 hits

Flickr Photos