opinion

Ampatuan massacre verdict: Partial justice against impunity

December 19, 2019

Editor's Note: Below is the unedited statement of Barug Katungod Mindanao on the recent Ampatuan massacre verdict IN a country labeled as one of the deadliest for journalists, human rights advocates, and farmers, today’s verdict on the Ampatuan massacre is a momentary respite from reigning injustice.  It gives precedent for all victims of human rights abuses to never waver in seeking accountability and justice in a country where impunity and corruption is deeply embedded in the justice system. But the quest for justice is not over. The political machinery of the Ampatuan warlord clan remains robust with at least 36 local government positions won in the last 2016 elections – 19 carrying the Ampatuan names while the rest their relatives – making them the “fattest” political dynasty in the country.[https://mail.yahoo.com/d/folders/1/messages/104146#_ftn1] Their economic power should also not be underestimated as they own “597 bank accounts, 500 hectares of real property assets, 130 motor vehicles, 420 firearms, and a private army of many hundreds”[https://mail.yahoo.com/d/folders/1/messages/104146#_ftn2] according to a recent investigative report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. The Ampatuans continue to be of value to the system of patronage politics in the country where politicians eyeing national posts have kept communities under the control of warlords to deliver electoral votes. We must remember that the Maguindanao massacre had been enabled by this symbiotic relationship between national politicians and local warlords. Most of all, the essence of Executive Order 546 which employs the use of paramilitaries as ‘multiplier forces’ as an adjunct to the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ counter-insurgency campaign continues to reign under President Duterte. EO 546 was President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s decree that allowed the unhampered build-up of the Ampatuan private army abetted by the military and police. Thus, while we breathe a sigh of brief relief brought about by the conviction of a partial number of suspects as 80 more are at large, we must remain vigilant as the Ampatuans appeal to the higher courts to ensure that there is no reversal of the verdict. We are also apprehensive that other relatives like Sajid Islam Ampatuan, Datu Akmad Tato Ampatuan, Jimmy Ampatuan, and some police officers were acquitted.  The acquittal does not curb the Ampatuan machinery from perpetrating more criminal acts and threatening families of victims and the courageous witnesses in the trial, an ordeal we have seen in the last 10 years. But we celebrate this momentous ruling by Quezon City RTC Judge Jocelyn Solis-Solis as a victory for people’s vigilance throughout the 10 years since the massacre was perpetrated on November 23, 2009 in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao. The court found former Datu Unsay Ampatuan mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr, former ARMM governor Zandy Ampatuan, and 25 of their ilk “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” and meted the penalty of reclusion perpetua without parole. Several others were also sentenced to imprisonment as accessories to the crime. We commend the relentless efforts of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines who kept the flame in the quest for justice for 32 media persons, the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao who kept the memory of Attorneys Concepcion Brizuela and Cynthia Oquendo, and the Justice Now Movement as the most steadfast organization of the kin of all the victims. The people’s movement has led to today’s victory. Our vigilance was expressed through an unwavering campaign for justice and accountability against the perpetrators of the massacre, mobilization of volunteers and networks in the conduct of fact finding missions, assistance to the families of victims, forums, lobbying to policy makers, and protests in the streets. Barug Katungod Mindanao stands with the families of the victims of one of the deadliest massacre in recent Philippine history where the Ampatuans and their goons murdered and inhumanely buried 58 persons that include 32 journalists and media workers, 2 lawyers, and the wife of Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu who was at that time the vice-mayor of Buluan town in Maguindanao, along with other Mangudadatu relatives, and 6 motorists who were just passing by the vicinity. We must also remain militant since the system that fuels this impunity still reigns supreme. Extra-judicial killings in Mindanao is still going on, a total to 162 victims fell since Duterte came to power. Hundreds of journalists, lawyers, community leaders, and even churchpeople are still victims of vilification, illegal arrests, and other forms of state repression. Executive Order 546 is still in effect. Now, President Duterte’s Martial Law in Mindanao and Executive Order 70 is reinforcing this vicious system. Today, justice is served. Tomorrow, we continue the fight. Bishop Redeemer Yañez Spokesperson, Barug Katungod

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Time to open pandora’s box

December 18, 2019

IN a surprise move, Malacanang has announced it’s about time to investigate the franchise granted to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP). That said, the Movement for Brown out Free Mindanao is now urging the  Senate  for the revocation of China’s 40 percent stake in the the country’s lone power transmission facility.   In a recent Senate budget hearing, the Department of Energy (DOE) has confirmed that the State Grid Corporation of China can switch off  power grid remotely with devastating effect on the country’s national security. Reports revealed  that the State Grid of China allegedly changed portions of National Grid Corporation of the Philippines' (NGCP) system instructions into Chinese and allowed Chinese nationals to operate the transmission system - freely and with gusto! If the State Grid of China will go berserk, and  would want to jeopardize the country’s economy, it  will just have to switch off the entire transmission facilities - from Luzon to Visayas and Mindanao. This scenario  is not far-fetched because State Grid of China has a technical staff are embedded  at the very nerve of the transmission grid. Helpless as it were, what the DOE has been doing through the years is just  applying  the ‘wait and see’ security measures  — monitor and record  from a distance China's stake in the country's vital power infrastructure. The entry of foreign partner into the country’s energy sector, in this case the power transmission facility was a product of shortsightedness  on the part of lawmakers who penned the RA 9316 otherwise known as the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 and RA 9511, granting franchise to NGCP, a consortium of Filipino and Chinese power players.   For whatever reason, NGCP  has again justified its existence by setting aside fears that its business alliance and technical partner State Grid of China would shut down the country’s  transmission highway. But Malacanang  is loud and clear: it’s not about business, it’s all about the national security of the state. (ruffy44_ph2000@yahoo.com)

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Courteous, accessible BDO employees

December 16, 2019

I’ ve been busy but still I would like to take this time to personally thank Banco de Oro (BDO) at SM City Cagayan de Oro Uptown for their assistance in what appears to be a complicated process of opening a bank account for purposes of retirement. Yah, retirement. Thanks of course to the customer friendly attitude of the BDO employees especially Sam Sazon and her supervisor Aley or Fredeley Timpad. I would also like to thank Gian James Gamones Maagad also of BDO at Cogon Branch. I personally knew him since he was a baby and he is still ‘Jajang’ to me, having that very serious look among the Maagad brothers. It was Gian who vouched for my personhood, stating that he knew me personally too. I don’t blame the BDO employees for their strict compliance with the bank’s rules since they are only doing their job. I can only imagine BDO management being proud of their three employees for balancing compliance to their rules while maintaining courtesy and accessibility to their clients. Just a little background on what happened to my papers so the parents and guardians may know even if we do live in different times. I go by the name Susan after high school and in fact I use it in all my other public documents.  But my name is Susana on my birth certificate and I find the extra A heavy so I dropped It and it was okay to my mother. My nanay told me that my name was really Susan but the clerk told her that it should be Susana. Wow I never expected that clerks have a say on what to name one’s children and I question that, but then again this practice may have been dropped already. The second problem I have with my birth certificate concerns my birthday.  I usually celebrate my birthday on November 8 but my birth certificate stated thsat I was born in December 12. I learned about this back in 2002 when 12 members of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club went to Australia for benchmarking on how to report on corruption. For me to get a visa, I have to secure the entry on my birth certificate. That’s it. And this caused do much problems on my retirement application at the Social Security System (SSS) and Pagibig. I heard so many similar stories and maybe you also have the same problem. I hope you did something to correct it now rather than learn about it later to spare yourself both expenses and inconvenience. Hospitals already register babies and forward the papers to the local registrar at the city or town where the birth occured. That would spare parents from securing legal counsel which may or may cost serious money. Again, thank you Sam Suson, Aley Timpad and Gian James Maagad.  May the banking industry you represent thrive in order to serve more customers as I see no reason why not because of your courteous attitude and accessibility. …….,,,,,,, This corner would like to greet a belated eighth birthday to Isabella Tate Coupland, daughter of Paul and Jane Galleto Coupland of the famous La Bella  Luna Ristorante that serves the best Italian cuisine here at Uptown Cagayan de Oro. I’ve heard that even the downtowners would head uptown to dine at La Luna that was named after the celebrant.  Isabelle’s mom Jane said her daughter is caring and thoughtful to her brother, especially when he isn’t feeling well. Bella loves reading, vlogging on her cell phone—which she keeps to herself as a diary— swimming, biking and roller skating to name a few. Her favorite TV programs are ‘The Worst Witch’,  ‘Full House’ and ‘Fuller House’ and her favorite color is purple, the color of royalty.  Her favorite food is pasta and she is in Grade 2 of Xavier University Grade School Pueblo.  I wish a very happy birthday to Isabella, the little mermaid (For questions and comments email me at susanap.dennis@yahoo.com)

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Climate Change and Major Emitters

December 16, 2019

While all of us already experience what climate change is all about, delegates from developing countries have reacted angrily to what they see as attempts to block progress at the COP25 meeting in Madrid. Yes, I get already big problems remaining patient while watching live stream news from Madrid. One negotiator told the BBC that the talks had failed to find agreement on a range of issues because of the blocking actions of some large emitters. Carlos Fuller from Belize said that Brazil, Saudi Arabia, India and China were "part of the problem". Other observers said there was a serious risk of failure at the talks. Daily headlines let me feel bad. Greenland ice melt 'is accelerating'. Amazon oil boom under fire at UN climate talks. And so on and so on ... I am writing this while living in the Philippines -  a country hit most by climate change. Ministers from all over the world have arrived in Madrid for the high-end negotiations that will determine the final outcome of this conference. Despite a huge climate demonstration on the streets of the Spanish capital last Friday, hopes of an ambitious declaration at COP25 have smacked straight into the realities of politics and entrenched positions. I am afraid, also "Madrid" won't help anymore. There's an effort right now to block the words 'climate urgency' in text from Brazil and Saudi Arabia, saying we haven't used these words before in the UN, so we can't use them now," said Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International. "This gap between what's happening on the outside and what's happening in the science, and this 'UN speak' that won't react and drive something is very frustrating." One issue that has caused a good deal of anger are the attempts by Brazil, China, India and Saudi Arabia to have the actions that were due to be completed before 2020 by richer nations, re-examined as part of the overall deal here in Madrid. Distressing ... . +++ Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter or visit my www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com.

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SEA Games: Humanity above all

December 12, 2019

Winning the competition and upholding sportsmanship is important, but humanity is above all (President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, December 9, 2019) THE quotation above was stated by my President, Joko Widodo (Jokowi). It was sent by a friend of mine, Dr. Randy Tudy, from the Digos city, Philippines. He tagged it on my Facebook newsfeed, exactly on the same day as stated by Mr. Jokowi on December 9, 2019. So far, we have eye-witnessed the fact of sport contest or the sport game is always highly competitive. All the competitors, very specifically in football match, are so fierce. Mostly, they even play so hard to win. Sometimes we can also see the bad acts on the opponents for winning. But, in the surfing game, the Filipino surfer, Roger Casugy, at the SEA Games 2019, was really so noble. He showed the high degree of value in humanity. He abandoned grasping the gold medal, though in few minutes about to get it, he preferred forgetting that opportunity. He decided to help the opponent contestant, Indonesian surfer, who drowned in the water. After falling down from his surfing pane, he drowned. He was swept over by the three-meter high wave. Roger Casugy decided to help the opponent, Indonesian surfer, Arip Nurhidayat, drowned in the water. After falling down from his surfing pane, Arip drowned. He was swept over by the three-meter high wave. This is really the noblest action done by the Filipino surfer. He demonstrated his appreciation towards humanity to the world. He showed an action teaching us, the world public, about the high value of humanity. Grasping the gold medal is the priority in any games. Grabbing the best achievement in any sport contest is the utmost goal for any sportsmanship. So, it was really the noblest behavior demonstrated by the Filipino surfer, Roger Casugy. He forgot all of those wishes. When practicing the value of humanity, we can do some actions. These actions can be also done by many people around the world. For example, someone may show empathy. Empathizing other people in our surrounding is also an act of humanity. We can also do this in our everyday lives. Another example of action demonstrating the humanity value is by showing gratitude. We can gratitude other people any time. It is so simple but sometimes we need to learn how to do it. So, we can be human by showing our gratitude. Another action reflecting humanity is by respecting other people. When we always respect other people we can be said we have shown the value of humanity. It is also easy to do it. That’s the attitude and behavior showing humanity. Last but not least, humanity can also be done by being humble. Being humble means we can also show humility. This is the action of humanity. However, above all, the action by the Filipino surfer, Roger Casugay is the noblest one. It is categorized not only empathy, gratitude, respect, and humility, but it covers all of those actions. As an Indonesia citizen, I have to say my gratitude to you, the noblest surfer, Roger Casugy. May God bless you and your family. Dr. Djuwari is the director of language laboratory at STIE Perbanas Surabaya, the editor of some research journals in the Philippines and Indonesia. He is also a journalist in some newspapers in Indonesia; the president of international association of scholarly publishers, editors, and reviewers (IASPER).

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Climate Change and Major Emitters

December 12, 2019

WHILE all of us already experience what climate change is all about, delegates from developing countries have reacted angrily to what they see as attempts to block progress at the COP25 meeting in Madrid. Yes, I get already big problems remaining patient while watching live stream news from Madrid. One negotiator told the BBC that the talks had failed to find agreement on a range of issues because of the blocking actions of some large emitters. Carlos Fuller from Belize said that Brazil, Saudi Arabia, India and China were "part of the problem". Other observers said there was a serious risk of failure at the talks. Daily headlines let me feel bad. Greenland ice melt 'is accelerating'. Amazon oil boom under fire at UN climate talks. And so on and so on ... I am writing this while living in the Philippines -  a country hit most by climate change. Ministers from all over the world have arrived in Madrid for the high-end negotiations that will determine the final outcome of this conference. Despite a huge climate demonstration on the streets of the Spanish capital last Friday, hopes of an ambitious declaration at COP25 have smacked straight into the realities of politics and entrenched positions. I am afraid, also "Madrid" won't help anymore. There's an effort right now to block the words 'climate urgency' in text from Brazil and Saudi Arabia, saying we haven't used these words before in the UN, so we can't use them now," said Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International. "This gap between what's happening on the outside and what's happening in the science, and this 'UN speak' that won't react and drive something is very frustrating." One issue that has caused a good deal of anger are the attempts by Brazil, China, India and Saudi Arabia to have the actions that were due to be completed before 2020 by richer nations, re-examined as part of the overall deal here in Madrid. Distressing ... . +++ Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter or visit my www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .

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