Posts filed under ‘Guimaras Oil Spill’

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

The Moro Islamic Liberation Frontwebsite 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

China, India, Korea, Australia, and, Japan: ASEAN summit stories missed

Although there is coverage on this topic in international media – the face to face meeting between governments and major geopolitical discussions are not that talked about like events including the major issues that affect global trade and security and the regional economy have limited value to local commercial TV networks which seem to be more interested in covering a few hundred protesters than discussions that do have major impact on lives of 2.5 billion people in the world.

The Meeting between China and Japan comes amidst some tension between Asia’s leading economies – the issue of North Koran nuclear weapons, the bilateral discussions on the development of a Japanese Ministry of Defense.

South Korea’s new found leadership in many areas of trade make a visit by its leaders major business and economy news. Australia’s Howard coming even in the face of terror threats saying – leaders must not give in to terror threats also is another story.

Items that do carry more than the usual importance – and – happening here. But to some in TV they prefer the report of the price of dried fish and mangoes being brought home as gifts. No information is given viewers on topics like there on Major network TV whose agenda seems only to highlight groups they themselves in the editorial departments of many news organizations are part and of – which is why they losing viewers.

For example: I just saw tonight on leading newscast. One of their best business news reporters seemed to be doing an early morning TV marketplace price report. And ignoring the news items like these in their newscast.

Chinese, Japanese leaders meet in summit in Philippines
International Herald Tribune, France – CEBU: China’s Premier Wen Jiabao and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met for talks as part of an Asian regional summit Sunday,
10th China-ASEAN Summit opens in Cebu, Philippines People’s Daily Online
Chinese premier leaves for Philippines tour People’s Daily Online
Premier Wen arrives in Philippines for China-ASEAN summit Xinhua

Manmohan arrives in Philippines
Indian Muslims, CA – Cebu , Jan 13 (IANS) Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived here Saturday on a three-day visit to attend the India-ASEAN and East Asian
Manmohan arrives in Philippines India
PM arrives in Philippines, to push free trade pact Zee News
Indian PM departs for Philippines to attend ASEAN Summit Islamic Republic News Agency

ASEAN: Leaders Seek Stronger Union
Stratfor During the first day of discussions at the summit meeting in the sea resort of Cebu in the Philippines, ASEAN leaders signed a counterterrorism agreement Summit of Southeast Asian Leaders Opens Voice of America
Poverty, regional security, & trade are top priorities BIMPEAGA Manila Bulletin
Blasts a message ahead of ASEAN meet: Police chief

Roh Proposes Kimpo-Shanghai Air Shuttle
Korea Times, South Korea – 2 hours ago
In a meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao in Cebu, the Philippines, on the sidelines of the ASEAN+3 summit, Roh also asked for Beijing’s support
Roh leaves for Philippines to attend regional summit Yonhap News
South Korea, Indon leaders cut short trips to ASEAN Summit
President to Attend ASEAN+3 Summit Korea Times

Howard to meet ASEAN leaders in Philippines
The Age, Australia – 10 hours ago
Mr Howard today flies out to attend the East Asia Summit in the central Philippine city of Cebu. The meeting will include 10 ASEAN (Association of
Howard in Philippines for East Asia summit Radio Australia
Howard to meet China’s Premier Wen The Age

Considering this network is supposedly headed by a pair of International news persons who claim to be working on improving the level of information and education to local viewers.

But little or no mention is made on this topic. At least NBN is trying its best with limited resources to bring in some context on issues and sideline meetings of the major players. Also well put together is Net 25’s coverage and that of even GKN TV seems to be working harder to make an effort to discuss topics and be more informative than another local cable news channel.

It is sad that considering so much happening not being reported in part because of personal bias and blind criticism causing them to lose sight of media primary role of information – rather – than allowing people to see major events happening in their own backyard.

January 14, 2007 at 7:17 pm 1 comment

Philippines:HAZMAT spill gear/training badly needed

A pair of incidents within 24 hours shows the dangers of hazardous chemicals in the Philippines. The first event took place in a countries richest municipality’s – the City of Makati where a spill cause problems for a local community after a local high school science lab had a major accident while people were looking over chemicals for end of the year experiments.

toxic substances were unreleased accidentaly – more due to neglect and error.

[] ” … ABC News Australia report:

Manila: Ten high school teachers and two security guards were hospitalised yesterday after they inhaled noxious chemicals in their school lab in Makati City, school authorities and officials said. They were taken to a government-run Makati Hospital for contamination testing after they vomited, developed skin rashes, could not breathe, and felt giddy when they went near the science section of the San Isidro High School yesterday, said Fire Chief Superintendent Sofia Mendoza.
“They have to stay in the hospital for about four days. We are still determining the types of chemicals that have affected them,” said Dr Joselito Pascual of the poison control centre of the University of Philippines-Philippine General Hospital. “We are looking at six to seven types of chemicals that were suspected to have affected the health of the patients,” said Pascual. …’ []

The second spill took place in a small town north of Manila – in the now semi urban area of Marilao – a once small town  – now filled with subdivisions from the ever rapidly growing cities of Manila.

            []…”Chemical Fumes Sicken 31 in Philippines
Forbes, NY – 1 hour ago
Noxious fumes from chemical waste dumped into a Philippine creek forced thousands to flee their homes and sickened dozens Tuesday, officials said.
Philippines: Thousands evacuate after chemical spill CCTV
Philippine chemical spill sickens 31 Houston Chronicle
Philippine chemical spill sickens 20 people; 3,000 flee homes International Herald Tribune   …” []

Here as international reports show from the wires- agonise, it was more sinister- a truck carrying chemicals from area factories or industrial sites dumped its waste into what perhaps a driver thought was a place where few people were. result 31 hospitalised and the chemicals caused severe damage to the local community.

But a email I got from a local security expert based here in Manila – who has worked internationally with major foreign law enforcement agencies says both spills show the risks and dangers HAZMAT  cleanup, handling and investigation when events like these occur.

Most local government units do not have the proper equipment and or capability to handle things like this – the danger considering how much chemical use in manufacturing is so prevalent. The need for more Hazmat safety gear is bdly needed per my security expert.

Here’s an excerpt from the email.

[]”… ” Mike,
my former partners were the ones who responded with the bunny suits and SCBA breathing apparatus.  all the gear of gov’t were deployed in cebu for the ASEAN summit.  the gov’t should consider upgrading its hazmat and WMD capabilities.  the one at san isidro was just a school accident, what if it were a terrorist act???  the gear that was brought to the site was from , the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in laguna.  They were kind enough to respond with their equipment.  ” – …[]

The need and demand is high and gear is limited.  Perhaps DENR could get into the act and start equipping PENRO / CENRO offices in the country with HAZMAT gear-  in HAZMAT emergencies – after all DENR Sec. Angie Reyes’s people would most likely be the lead agency when disasters like a HAZMAT problem occur in prosecution and later in enforcement and cleanup.

DILG and the PNP have gear but it is limited. Imagine the scene today in Bulacan which I saw unfolding on TV. I know personally the reporters who responded. Doland Castro of ABS-CBN at about 6:20 in the morning was reporting from an area near the spill and promptly came to the conclusion his gear a few masks were more needed by local emergency workers and gave up his filtered mask gear.

He later reported most people in the area – were sick nearest the spill and scores more were ‘walking to the site to see for themselves.” what the bad smell was.

Here the LGU could have and should have set up a safety zone and also cordoned off the area. HAZMAT training is clearly lacking at the Police and LGU level – the level of chemical danger and risk is not only smell in many cases but even mere exposure alone.

One need only be reminded of the tragic Bhopal chemical spill that killed thousands in India among them scores of ill-equipped first responders who rushed into the area to give aid only to fall victim to the very toxic cloud that was there.

Let both Bulacan and Makati be a lesson – there is a risk and danger. As well as a need. Perhaps this Christmas shopping list for local government and the PNP and the DENR  should be HAZMAT equipment and training sessions. before something worse happens.

November 28, 2006 at 10:06 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

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

Philippine Oil Spill: National level Calamity declared

President Arroyo’s order is more than just a formality that most diasters require for the release of funds to handle natural disasters. It also brings the level of responce up to treaty level and allows more direct international participation in the clean-up.

[]…” Arroyo declares oil spill calamity President Arroyo on Friday declared the oil spill in Guimaras a national calamity as the slick spread rapidly and threatened some of the country’s richest fishing grounds.Mrs. Arroyo, who made the declaration during the 18th National Convention of the National Prosecutors’ Week in Cebu, said the oil disaster in Guimaras demands the cooperation and solidarity of all Filipinos. “I call upon Petron and the ship owner to immediately clean up the mess and the Task Force Guimaras and Coast Guard Admiral Arthur Gosingan to attend to environmental and health issues,” she said. …” [] ABS-CBNNEWSonline

I do not know which PR agency is advising the Petron people what to say when they appear on TV- one man in particular yesterday was talking about -“product recovery” The insensitive nature of the comment and term might lead some to believe there is more concern over product- than people the environment and safety.

But then again had the concern been with true product integrity – delivery of product to destination in the most safe & secure manner to an end user i wouldn’t even be writing this blog and those people sick and in hospital and the man who died and hundred imillion peso partail clean up bill not needed?

August 25, 2006 at 4:21 pm Leave a comment

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