Posts filed under ‘Global Warming’

Philippine spratly island town sinking ‘global warming’

The current debate and stand-off in the south China sea over a gruop of islets called the spratly chain of islands may be all for nothing if global warming keeps its path. the small islands may soon be whiped off the map – by rising tides cuased by gloabl warming.

[] “… disclosed by geologist Dr. Jose Antonio Socrates who is continuously monitoring the conditions of the Pag-Asa Island, one of the islands in the KIG, also known as the Spratlys. …”[]  http://www.bayanihan.org/

Ironic considering the Philippine government is considering building up the runway and facilities and infrastructure on the largestof the islands. Pag-Asa – incorporated under the munincipality of Kalayaan – or freedom land – the runway has a long history originally built on the remnants of  Japanese – then later US  military emergency airstrips built and abandoned during world war two.  The advantage pagasa has is fresh water.

But if Doc Soc – as he’s known on palawan is correct – then the Philippine government and other claimants to disputed territory rich in both marine and petroleum resources might want to look at options to build up rather than out in the small area.

the Philippines sees the area as a possible growth area for tourism – coral reefs are still largely intact although chinese fishing companies from Hainan are still using Cyainiad and explosives to boost fish catches. destroying rees in the same maner they destroyed much of the coastal areas they have near hainan and the Parcel islands. Philippine blast fishermen also abound as do blast fishermen from Indonesia and other areas.

So building up resources and infrastructure might be the only way to save the area and with cooperation rather than confrontation a key word in each claimants efforts the islands stand to see much feasable growth as a shared area for the six countries that claim the islands.

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March 31, 2007 at 12:52 pm 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

ASEAN Cebu Summit: Major agreements and Declaration

 At the ASEAN summit in cebu several major declarations nad agreemtns have been signed and put forward. Including plans for a ASEAN charter. The establishment of a EU like common market. As well as  issues on health and  networking among social services and  in disasters and emergencies.

Links:

Doc Agreement – Cebu Declaration Towards One Caring and Sharing Community, Cebu, Philippines, 13 Jan 2007. More…
Doc Agreement – Cebu Declaration on the Blueprint of the ASEAN Charter, Cebu, Philippines, 13 Jan 2007 More…
Doc Agreement – Cebu Declaration on the Acceleration of the Establishment of an ASEAN Community by 2015, Cebu, Philippines, 13 Jan 2007. More…
Doc Agreement – ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, Cebu, Philippines, 13 Jan 2007. More…
Doc Report – The Eminent Persons Group (EPG) Report on the Proposed ASEAN . More…
Doc Agreement – Declaration on the Deposit of the Instrument of Accession of the French Republic to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, Cebu, Philippines, 13 Jan 2007. More…

January 14, 2007 at 1:37 pm Leave a comment

Guimeras oil spill waste barge sinks: Insult to Injury indeed!

A few weeks back a friend of mine who has shifted away from Journalism took a job working on a crisis PR team of a the oil company that owned the oil shipment that spilled in Guimeras. He said his boss’s attitude was “the accident was a insult to nature… and that it was a accident afterall no one wanted that to happen.”

tonight news reports are that the clean up barge sank causing another potential environment crisis. Te only thing I can tell my friend is this now adds injury to the insult.

Barge carrying debris from Philippines‘ worst oil spill sinks
International Herald Tribune, France – 1 hour ago
AP. MANILA, Philippines: A barge carrying 630 tons of debris from the worst oil spill in the Philippines sank in rough seas, officials said Tuesday.
Barge with oil spill debris sinks in Philippines Reuters
Barge carrying debris from Philippines‘ worst oil spill sinks Hindu
all 9 news articles »

What kind of people run the former state owned oil firm and can’t they get anything right? firt they hire a rickety old single hulled oil carrier then what they hire a barge to carry the waste cleanup that has become for all intents a toxic artificial reef?

November 21, 2006 at 6:36 pm Leave a comment

N. KOREA SAYS ‘Sanctions = WAR”

A statement issued by the North Korean Central News Agency may seem ominous but considering that technically the Korean war never ended and there is only a armistice agreement along the border DMZ one truly wonders what it means.

One also remembers the famous speech at the canal of another leadership when Gen. Manuel Noriega declared war on the USA and world and threatened the Panama canal.

In a week he was in jail in US prison clothes.

But North Korea is afterall if anything a armed camp. Considering 80 per cent of North Korean resources have been built up to prepare for just such a thing- there is no way one can compare the two.

If past US military victories versus built up armies – Iraq for example, which in two wars had on paper five million men under arms and yet most fled.

While any war in Korea might be dangerous – I wonder if prosperous global economic leader – China itself might get fed up and just squash the mess in North Korea and install a more open minded leadership there. It would give the PLA something to do – and test its capabilities. It could even see a US-China allaince vs. North Korea. Amazing how history changes events context when it moves on.

[] ” … “deal merciless blows” if the nation’s sovereignty is violated, the North’s central government said Tuesday in its first response to the U.N. measures. The North wants “peace but is not afraid of war,” the country’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency. …” []Wire agency reports

D eclaring war though is serrious statement to be made by a now nuclear armed state – and could just provide the very basis for action others might need to intervene. Japan and South Korea alone backed by China could effectively deal with problems the Nokors could raise if supported by the USA on a tactical level.

DEVELOPING….

October 17, 2006 at 5:27 pm Leave a comment

Gallup:Democrats have edge on the terrorism & morality issues

Well, it was expected to be others areas where the Democrats would have gains in the lead up to congressional elections.

But- for the first time, the Democrats have an edge on the issue of terrorism and yes- unbelievable as it seems to a party leadership filled with scandals of the not so recent past – the Dems have Morality on their side too!

Amazing, Political perception is seen often from events that occur and how the events are reported and presented. Hence the Foley Follies – took away much of the credible high ground the administraition party had – by not acting swiftly enough.
It looks like tough times ahead for the White House too, Bouyed new strength in poll numbers; some circles of Democratic power are already looking closely at races and among the things being brought forth are issues like accountability and a possibility of raising numbers of votes towards things like impeachment and indictments in a Democratic majority house. At issue – irony – lies told on the war path to war in Iraq.

A fast paced action plan is reportedly, also in place, to seek accountability for mistakes down the line and attempt to grasp back more congressional control of actions in Iraq and elsewhere to full oversight and consultation with congress. But first the democrats would have to win. In such a situation facing it the republican party – now is facing more than just miderms for congress but an issue of it’s ability to still represent a constituent base that by recent events seems to feel increasinlgy betrayed.

After nearly six years and a almost no end in sight to a growing conflict – perhaps it is time indeed for a change at helm of the ship of congress – at least – and perhaps- even the entire ship of state.

Which at least in Political terms, seems to keep running aground. Clearly i the least, new minds are needed to seek a clear relevant end to this conflict that is diverting so much of American resources and attention from many other non-security issues like immigration and trade related issues.

As horrible as the threat of terrorism and the danger of new attacks -are- has by giving it so much focus, has the USA given rise to a bigger foe than just this extremist criminal murderers who hijacked a religion in a lust for power they have in the middle east?

Some analysts see that while one organization has indeed been cut off- the orignal al qaeda – the new spin-off’s and copycats across the globe seem emboldened to emulate and create a larger more dangerous foe for the future. I.E. Iraqi and foreign fighters in that conflict- the Opium financed and backed Taliban – creating a narco-funded fundamentalist group. These are long term issues though – perhaps just one opinion.

Yet a issue not discussed – as all sides rush to find politcal issues to hang on or make voters see themselves as best for the country at is now somewhat divided on issues to a point where politcal actors are plaing on a dangerous stage using issues they may indeed not have better answers to than anyone currently in place, really.

It is far fetched to see Impeachment talks going ay further than talk – I heard this while I was Nevada – that control of both houses of congress was high on the democratic agenda and impeachments and graft issues surrounding reconstruction expenses – were planned to be raised by – if indeed the numbers stay as they are – a Democratic majority house and US senate.

So as even the benchmarks that were strong areas of support for the Bush administration security and morality – fall to the other party in the USA one wonders what next comes if poll numbers hold through,

Ironically – a major influence on the US elections and preservation or removal of the Bush administrations republican allies in congress to stay in power lies in two groups – Iraqi insurgents and with Al Qaeda.

If some form of normalcy returns to Iraq in the next few months and some stability is restored – then the Democrats might have a tougher time with war and violence less of an issue. With Al Qaeda – if attacks take place on the USA – or major attacks happen around the world then – the Democrats position would be ironically strengthened. As failure to prevent such activities would be blamed on the Bush republicans in part.

Al Qaeda knows all too well how to use terror to influence elections carrying out attacks in Madrid days before Spanish parliamentary votes. influencing voters towards a more pacifist movement in place.

If Al Q attacks – and scores a major blow – the position of the democrats would be strengthened even if the battle cry they had when in power was get Osama – but a democratic majority – instead – focused more on economic issues and other concerns.

It is hard to call this early what the impact would be on if terrorism were to wave its ugly head and become an issue.

On the Morality side of things – so long as – Jay Leno’s advice is heeded – and they lock up the Kennedy’s till election day – the democrats seem destined to sweep control of congress back to their fold.

Lastly – politics or political parties are meaningless to who wins or ends this current war or conflict it is driven by issues far from the US political spectrum. But indeed; one might see a more divided Washington than it even is today. Which to some at least is good – for when Political hawks and doves are at each other on issues usually a better government is seen in DC. Because as designed by the framers of the U.S. constitution, each branch watches the other closer and is less lenient of mistakes?

But putting things into perspective; it doesn’t matter who is in congress and or the white house really – those against America will try and attack it regardless of political color and no terror attack or rogue state actions vs. the USA has ever come because of domestic political concerns.

 

October 15, 2006 at 4:25 pm Leave a comment

Sunshine:”never give up”

A chain email I liked – I get tons of this hut this one is a good one. (more…)

October 10, 2006 at 1:39 pm Leave a comment

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