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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Culture of gun and violence evident even in young Muslim clan members
By Ben O. Tesiorna, Reporter

The culture of gun and violence that’s being blamed for the many instances of deaths and violence in Mindanao especially in the Muslim areas is very evident in young members of the two influential political clans of the Ampatuans and the Mangudadatus.

In a check with the Friendster accounts of some of the scions of the two clans, pictures of young boys and their friends or family members carrying very high-powered firearms are proudly being displayed in the public website.

Photos in their Friendster accounts show very young men carrying assorted firearms ranging from pistol to high-powered rifles.

Young Dabawenyos who are friends to the scions of the two most powerful political clans in Central Mindanao admitted that the young Ampatuans and Mangudadatus always carry guns with them whenever they go to bars and discos here in Davao City.

In 2002, a young Ampatuan was accused of shooting and killing Dabawenyo Carlo Asistido during an altercation in The Venue. Mohammad Ampatuan Banarin was however acquitted from the crime after the victim’s parents issued their affidavit of desistance.

The culture of gun and violence has been blamed for the November 23 massacre of 57 innocent civilians in Maguindanao.

In the series of raids conducted in the Ampatuan properties in Maguindanao, hundreds of high-powered firearms were recovered ranging from anti-tank weapons to machineguns and automatic rifles. The recovered firearms are said to be enough to supply two battalions of army.

On Tuesday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines admitted that there are about 73 private armies including that of the Ampatuans and the Mangudadatus. Forty-two partisan armed groups (PAG) are said to be found in Maguindanao with nine PAG under the control of the Ampatuans numbering to about 2,410 armed men.
The Mangudadatus meanwhile maintain one PAG with about 250 armed followers. Most of the PAG are said to be legal since they are either Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Units (Cafgu), Civilian Volunteers Organization, or Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary (Scaa).
Though these PAGs are said to be being controlled by the politicians, the military report said though that the government is the one giving allowance and supplying arms to the said PAGs since they are being used in the counter-insurgency effort in the localities.
Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales meanwhile said that there are already about 132 PAGs all over the country with more than one million high-powered firearms most of which are said to be illegal. BOT

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ombudsman’s turtle-paced resolution to mayor’s case questioned
By Ben O. Tesiorna, Reporter

A Dabawenyo businessman has questioned the seemingly slow action taken by the Office of the Ombudsman on the graft cases the trader filed against the mayor of a town in Davao Oriental.

In an interview, Ruben Feliciano, who is into shipping, mining and logging, said that he filed the graft charges against Tarragona Mayor Samuel Uy before the Ombudsman Mindanao on July 31, 2008 yet until now the cases are still pending for resolution.

Thus in an urgent motion, Feliciano wrote Overall Deputy Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro urging the central office of the Ombudsman “for the speedy disposition of the cases against Mayor Uy”.

Feliciano filed six separate charges against Uy for violation of Republic Act 3019, RA 9184, grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, and neglect of duty.

In his letter dated August 14, 2009, Feliciano prayed for the imposition of a preventive suspension against Mayor Uy in light of the pending investigation of the Ombudsman.

“In line with the rulings of the Supreme Court on the matter, preventive suspension becomes an administrative process by which Mayor Uy will be kept at bay, restraining him from using his title, position, powers, resources and prerogatives to influence and harass potential witnesses or tamper with the records which may be vital in the adjudication of these cases against him,” Feliciano stated in his urgent motion.

The complainant said that “the evidence of guilt is so strong against respondent Mayor Uy and given the gravity of the offense there is a great probability that the continuance in office of the respondent could influence the witnesses or pose a great threat to the safety and integrity of the records and other evidences, and corruptions/abuses will continue.”

Feliciano’s charges are supported by the Commission on Audit’s result of their special audit team’s investigation on the anomaly charges that was submitted by COA to the Ombudsman on September 24, 2008.

The COA special audit team composed of Bienvenido Presilda, Alfredo Largo and Romeo Mahinay conducted probe on June 16, 2008 in relation to Feliciano’s accusations that Mayor Uy had made several cash advances amounting to P2,532,500.

This is aside from the cash advances made by two municipal job order workers, namely Remalyn Punay and Mercy Nanong, that amounted to at least P10 million.

The COA report said that most of the cash advances remained unliquidated that resulted to the incurrence of cash overdraft of P3,927,911.72 as of January 31, 2008 by the municipal government of Tarragona.

The COA special audit team recommended for the filing of appropriate charges against Mayor Uy and the two casuals for the “illegal and irregular disbursements of government funds as disclosed in the audit.”

The COA report showed that Uy had drawn several cash advances, in succession, from February 13, 2003 up to January 22, 2008. The COA said that the cash advances were not liquidated nor was there a proper accounting mde prior to the drawing of another cash advance.

Section 4.1.2 of COA Circular No. 97-002 as anchored on Republic Act 7160 stated that “no additional cash advances shall be allowed to any official or employee unless the previous cash advances given to him is first settled or a proper accounting thereof is made.”

Section 4.1.4 stated that “only permanently appointed officials shall be designated as disbursing officers.” Thus Punay and Nanong, who are both casuals, should have never been granted cash advances.

Efforts to get the side of Mayor Uy proved futile as of this writing. People close to the mayor however said that the cases filed by Feliciano are nothing but political harassment.

It was learned that Feliciano and Uy had an earlier tiff over the Community Based Forest Management permit of the businessman. The mayor allegedly prevented Feliciano from developing his CBFM area in Tarragona. BOT

Ocampo refuses to apologize to the AFP over OB list brouhaha
By Ben O. Tesiorna, Reporter

Maintaining his ground that an order of battle list of the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division exists, Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo refused to issue any statement of apology despite a court ruling that branded the lawmaker’s accusation is “empty and hearsay”.

In a text message, Rep. Ocampo said the court’s denial of the writ of amparo filed by three lawyers, who are purportedly in the OB list, “does not mean there was no OB by the 10th ID in 2007.”

He said that no less than the controversial Army general and now partylist representative Jovito Palparan admitted that OB list are a common procedure in any Army division.

“In a hearing at the Commission on Human Rights last month, retired Major General Jovito Palparan, former commander of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division, declared under oath that any operating unit of the Philippine Army can and have their respective OB’s. At least, Palparan was straightforward in admitting so,” Rep. Ocampo said.

The AFP earlier demanded for a public apology from Ocampo over the alleged order of battle list by the Army's 10th Infantry Division that included names of several civilians.

Judge Jose Emmanuel Castillo of the Davao City Regional Trial Court Branch 10 reportedly dismissed the petition filed by lawyers Angela Librado-Trinidad, Carlos Isagani Zarate and Lilibeth Ladaga against Major General Reynaldo Mapagu, chief of the Army's 10th Infantry Division; Colonel Lysander Suerte and Lieutenant Colonel Kurt Decapia, General Mapagu’s chief of staff and public information officer, respectively; Colonel Oscar Lactao, Task Force Davao commanding officer; and Davao City Police Chief, Senior Superintendent Ramon Apolinario.

Judge Castillo denied the petition of the complainants because the latter failed to prove, by substantial evidence, that their perceived threat to life, liberty and security is attributable to the unlawful act or omission of the respondents.

The petition stemmed from the alleged "Order of Battle" which Representative Ocampo claimed he received from a "conscientious soldier."

The military respondents vehemently denied authorship of the purported "OB List," saying it does not bear the distinctive marks and security classifications that military documents normally contain.

In ruling against the petition, the court considers the statement of Ocampo as "empty" and "hearsay" considering that he has no direct or personal knowledge on the authenticity of the subject "OB List."

For unknown reason, Ocampo did not personally testify to affirm what he stated in his affidavit and he also failed to present the "conscientious soldier" who the court says "could have possibly put petitioner's position in a better light."

Based on the evidence presented by the petitioner, the court was unconvinced that the violent deaths of militant members Celso Pojas, Ludenio Monzon and Dr. Rogelio Peñera is in any way related to the alleged "OB". BOT

Rebs raid hotel in Bukidnon
By Ben O. Tesiorna, Reporter

The New People’s Army raided a hotel in Bukidnon and disarmed the family of the owners whom the rebels accused of threatening peasant civilians in the area.

In an emailed statement to Sun.Star Davao, the NPA’s Guerrilla Front 53 Herminio Alfonso Command claimed to have successfully launched two tactical offensives in Kitaotao, Bukidnon on August 17.

“At 9:30 am, Red guerrillas disarmed the Traveler’s Inn and Restaurant along the national highway in Kitaotao owned by the Nietes family. At 2 pm, Red fighters ambushed the reinforcement troops of the Philippine National Police and the 29th Infantry Battalion-AFP using Command Detonated Explosive, at the same area, in Barangay Kipolot,” the NPA said.

“The Nietes family was disarmed as punishment for keeping high-powered firearms they used to threaten peasant civilians,” the rebel group added.
The NPA said the raid was part of their punitive action against the Nietes family for violation of “regulations on business operations inside guerrilla territories”.
One Uzi machine pistol was reportedly confiscated during the raid. BOT

AFP hold policy dialogue workshop on peace
By Ben O. Tesiorna, Reporter

In an effort to reach out to all stakeholders in the pursuit of peace in Mindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines has been conducting policy dialogue workshops in several areas in Mindanao.

Their mission is to seek the participation of all sectors in creating a favorable and peaceful policy environment towards transforming conflict and building peace.

In Thursday’s dialogue with the non-government organizations, local government units, foreign groups and peace groups held at the Apo View Hotel, AFP’s Civil Relations Services chief Brig. Gen. Gaudencio Pangilinan their peace dialogues are part of guidance given to them by the their commander-in-chief.

“This is part of how to end conflict thru peaceful resolution. This is also part of the guidance issued by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during our command conference that we should support the peace process, support national development and support the international community effort to solve the conflict,” Pangilinan said.

He said that with the peace policy dialogue workshops, they will soon be coming up with a policy paper on how to support peace in Mindanao and turn conflicts into peace building efforts.

Included in their workshop is on how to deal with the negative reactions by some officials on the Mindanao peace process.

Pangilinan said they are also continually conducting workshops on their soldiers to inculcate peace within their ranks. He said they are also reaching out to the rebel groups like the New People’s Army and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to seek their participation and cooperation in the AFP’s peacebuilding efforts in Mindanao.

“Because we are the soldiers of all, including those that need greater understanding and tolerance,” Pangilinan said.

The peace dialogue workshop is being spearheaded by the AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command, the Balay Mindanaw Foundation Inc. with the support of AusAID.

They have already conducted workshops in Cotabato ans will conduct the same activity in Cagayan de Oro after their Davao leg. BOT

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Cabuaya eagle tagged
By Ben O. Tesiorna, Reporter

One of the three Philippine Eagles observed to be living in the Philippine Eagle Sanctuary in Mati, Davao Oriental was successfully captured and tagged by the Philippine Eagle Foundation with a Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite transmitter.

The tagging aims to establish the movement patterns and habitat use among nesting adults for them to be able to know home range size and habitat preference of the eagles in Barangay Cabuaya where a family of three are nesting.

With the tagging, PEF also aims to investigate the patterns of dispersal and survival among young eagles after they leave their parent’s territory.

In a report by the PEF to the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources dated March 6, 2009, PEF field research program coordinator Jayson Ibañez said that their team had captured and tagged a young female Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), about one year old, on February 27, 2009.

Prior to the trapping, PEF team composed of biologist Ron Taraya and field technician Aniceto Allado did field observations to know the status of breeding at the Cabuaya nest site from November 19-30, 2008.

After the field observation, first attempt of trapping was then conducted from January 20-30, 2009. Three traps on two trapping site were laid by PEF. The traps are usually made up of a modified bal-chatri trap baited with a medium-sized rabbit or monkey. The first trapping attempt was however a failure.

A second attempt was conducted from February 21-27 where a total of four traps were used in two trapping sites. Traps were positioned below favorite perch trees and flight ways of the Philippine eagle.

Using a 25-60x Nikon fieldscope and an 8x40 binoculars, PEF spotter observed the traps from afar and provide feedbacks to the trap attendants regarding eagle activities and more importantly if an eagle has already been trapped.

The PEF report said that the successful second tagging attempt could be attributed to the bad weather condition in the area that week that prevented the eagles from flying to look for food.

“But this was a blessing in disguise as the birds were most likely hungry because of the difficulty of hunting during rainy weather. And if they were indeed hungry, then there is a high chance of them taking on the bait,” The PEF report stated.

True enough, as they entered into their last day of trying to capture an eagle and after seven days of rain and strong winds, the young female bird was finally captured at around 11:26 in the morning.
After getting confirmation from the spotter, PEF attendants rushed to the trap to restrain the eagle. The eagle was covered with a large towel to darken its surrounding and calm it. The legs were then secured and a hood inserted into its head to further calm the bird.

Nylon nooses that captured the eagle’s digits were then carefully cut using a sharp scissor. Elastic bandaged is then wrapped around the body of the eagle to secure the wings and masking tape was rolled around the talons and the digits to secure them.

The eagle was then transported to the PEF working station where a physical examination was administered and the tracking device installed. The battery-operated GPS transmitter was “backpacked” on the eagle using a Y-attachment. The transmitter has a neoprene padding to serve as cushion while the harness is made of Teflon.

The ends of the harness passed through a leather patch on top of which they were tied together, sewed and glued. The breast patch is meant to cushion skin abrasions from the knots. A leg band was also installed on the eagle. A “window” was also clipped on the secondary feathers of the bird to allow investigators to identify the bird even when it is in flight.

PEF report stated that the GPS transmitter is programmed to provide five GPS coordinates each day. A GPS transmitter programmed to provide a single location each day normally lasts a year. But with how the transmitter used by PEF is programmed, they expect the GPS transmitter to last only up to five months.

The trapped eagle was found to be in perfect health based on the physical examination conducted by Dr. Romelyn Reponte thus it was released immediately after the examination and the tagging.

The presence of the Philippine eagle in Cabuaya area was first reported in 1995 after a young eagle was turned over to the PEF by concerned citizens of Cabuaya. Starving and emaciated, the eagle crash landed into a farm and was rescued by the community officials.

Field monitoring followed from 1995-2003 where adult eagles were consistently detected, but the nest remained to be found. On March 2005, an active nest with a downy 5-8 week old chick was finally discovered that led to the creation of the 7,000-hectare Eagle Sanctuary in Cabuaya by the local government of Mati in 2006 that was supported by all sectors including the mining companies in the area.

BHP Billiton is said to be paying for the salary of the sanctuary caretaker. BOT

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mati’s summer destinations
By Ben O. Tesiorna, Reporter

Summer is here! And what is the best thing to do this summer? What else but head on to the beach and dive on the cool water.

Here in the Davao Region, one best destination would be the City of Mati in Davao Oriental. With its white sand beaches and azure seas, Mati is a go-getter. But there is more to Mati than just beaches and sun.

Lately, hotels and resorts have begun sprouting like mushroom in this laid back city. Sun.Star Davao toured some of the best hotel/resorts in Mati and here is our experience.

Located at the heart of the city, this latest addition to the growing number of hotels in Mati is a sure hit. With a very spacious two-bed air-conditioned room priced at P650 only, Baywalk Hotel is fast becoming a choice of visitors who wanted to experience great hotel ambience at a low price.
Each of its rooms has different themes and comes with a hot and cold shower, and a television. It also offers an air-conditioned function room that could accommodate 200 persons. At the lobby is a restaurant that serves delicious foods and drinks.
For techies, wifi is available. Baywalk Hotel also offers a great view of the sunset and is just a stone’s throw away from the cathedral and Mati’s baywalk park thus its name.
For reservations call (087) 811-4060.

Kanak Bai is a Mandayan dialect which literally means “my house”. And like its meaning, visitors would surely call this very exclusive resort as their own house. Kanakbai Tropical Home is located only 15 minutes away from the city. You travel in to Dahican Village, and along a picturesque coconut farm and cattle ranch which ends at the Pacific Ocean.
This two bedroom tropical house is right in front of the Pacific Ocean, and surrounded with coconut trees, Barbados almonds, mahogany trees and a tropical garden.
Owner Queenie Catbagan-Sibala said there will only be one set of guests at a time on their resort. She said this is to give their guests the exclusivity they needed during their stay.
Kanak Bai amenities include 2 full suites that could accommodate six persons each room. The room comes with king size beds, private baths (hot and cold showers), and air-conditioning.
It has a screened balcony complete with furniture, refrigerator, a mini bar with a view of the tropical garden and the Pacific Ocean.
The resort has also a large veranda that is 75 square meters and includes fully-equipped kitchen with refrigerator, stove, microwave oven, dining wares and kitchen utensils, two dining tables, two ceiling fans, outdoor benches and comfortable sofas, private comfort room and outdoor shower.
All this for at least P2,500 only for a couple. If the guests number to more than two, Sibala said they will charge an additional P250 per person. If you want a package for as many as 20 guests, the whole resort is yours for only P10,000 per day.
Other amenities include child wading pool, banca, two mountain bikes, skimboard, on-site housekeeper and cook.
This haven is ideal for the relaxing tourist, newlyweds, lovers, friends, family reunions, weddings and all sorts of celebration inside a coconut plantation overlooking a white beach and the Pacific Ocean.
For reservations and more information log on at www.kanakbai.com or call them at 09177197209.

The Botona Beach Resort is named after its owner, Eva Botona.Wanting to help her fellow Matininan, Eva decided to construct a beach resort that will not only serve as her rest house whenever she is in town but also cater to the visitors who wanted to enjoy the Dahican Beach.
The resort boasts of two cottages with two rooms each priced from P1,500 to P1,800 per day. A resto-bar is also available for those who wanted to savor seafoods and cold drinks. Several kiosks, at P250 each, and rubber seats, at P150 each, are also available for those who are on a tight budget.
If you want to have all of the resort exclusively yours, you will have to shell only P15,000. The resort is perfect for parties and weddings. An exclusive use of the restaurant area during daytime is only P2,000 while on night time it is a little higher at P3,000.
If you only have P5 in your pocket, have no fear as you can still enjoy the Botona Beach with its P5 entrance fee. All you have to do is sit on the sand and enjoy the sea.
Call or text 09185255227 for your reservations.

Just a few months since it opened to the public, El Pueblo will definitely offer a new experience for visitors and locals alike.
Mary Ann Lopez-Valverde is bent on making El Pueblo a must destination in the near future. Though at present it only has one building with 12 rooms priced at P850 each room with free breakfast , four more buildings are coming up along with a swimming pool and a garden with a fountain fit for weddings and parties.
Valverde said she will also construct a commercial building in the compound for other establishments to make business with. A conference room will also be constructed as well as a spa. The owner said she plans to make El Pueblo a high class resort comparable to the Marco Polo Hotel in Davao City.
At the moment, Valverde said she is introducing her international cuisine to the residents of Mati. So far, so good she says. This summer, there specialty is the halo-halo topped with a strawberry ice cream and a cherry.
For reservations and inquiries, El Pueblo can be contacted at 0922-8448029.

Gregorio Beach Resort is one of the four resorts lined along the Masao area. From as low as P250, one can enjoy the sand, sea and sun.
Aircon rooms are available for only P1,200. While a two room “vacation house” sitting on top of the water is at P2,000 per day. Other cottages can be rented out from P500-P1,000. A floating cottage is also available for only P200.
Gregorio Beach Resort has much promise to becoming a favorite destination but it needs more improvement at the moment. Text or call 091975551712 for your reservations.


One of the most popular resorts in Masao is the Cinco Masao Resort. It has 15 small open cottages for at least P100 only and 15 big open cottages for P150. Four aircon rooms are also available for P1,500 each while a family room good for 12 people can be rented out for P4,000.
Non-air rooms are also available for only P300 good for two persons. Cinco Masao is known for its line of cottages going out to the sea. “Tulay cottages”, as they call it, can be rented out from P300 to P400 pesos only on daytime. Higher rates are imposed on nighttime use of their cottages.
At the end of the tulay cottages is the function hall with eight rooms on its attic. The entire building can be rented for P5,400 while rent for the function hall only is at P2,500.
Cinco Masao has also a mini zoo with monkeys, eagle, a civet cat, a crocodile and a “kalaw” named Luningning.
Luningning has become the resort’s attraction. Uncaged, Luningning flies freely around the resort. Just by a call of her name, Luningning flies towards whoever calls her. Though at first one might get intimidated with Luningning’s huge beak, she is nevertheless as harmless as a puppy.
Growing up around people made Luningning very comfortable with visitors who wanted to hold and pet her. Just one warning though, never try to run whenever Luningning is around as she will surely swoop down on you. For reservations call 09187560571.

Honey’s Hotel and Restaurant is one of the favorites in holding events with huge crowd. The two-storey building has two function halls that can accommodate several hundreds of people.
At the ground floor are beautifully designed hotel rooms. Each room has different motif, all are air-conditioned with hot and cold bath and cable TV.
Adjacent to the hotel is the Honey’s Restaurant that serves food turo-turo style.
They can be contacted at telephone number (087) 811-4038.

Two of my most memorable destinations in Mati are the Jam Bay Beach Resort and the Seaside Restaurant.


Jam Bay Resort is located along the Masao beach strip. At present it has only three rooms, and several tables along the beach front. A conference hall and more rooms are however being constructed and will be completed soon.
What struck me most with Jam Bay is the warmth and hospitality of its owner and staff. Owner Joy Moring is most accommodating host.
Big plus factor is the swimming pool-like swimming area. Unlike other resorts in the Masao area, Jam Bay’s swimming area is very clean and safe. The owners painstakingly clean their area of dead leaves on a daily basis and flattens area that have sharp stones to make it more pleasing to the naked feet.
The staff is also very obliging to the point that you feel so pampered like a royalty.
For reservations and inquiries you can contact Jam Bay Resort at 09219541272.

If you want the best sea foods in town, go to Seaside Restaurant located just a few meters away from the city hall.
Mouth-watering grilled tunas paired with kinilaw, shrimp in chili sauce, camaron rebosado, grilled pusit and tinolang isda is just heavenly and satisfying.
Seaside also boasts of its popular fried and fresh lumpias and empanada.
If in Mati, just ask where Seaside is and you will surely not miss it. Seaside is synonymous to good food. BOT

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Croc Kills Girl In Agusan

crocodiles Pictures, Images and Photos

Croc kills girl in Agusan
By Ben O. Tesiorna, Reporter

A 30-foot crocodile reportedly attacked and killed a 12-year old girl in Agusan del Sur last week.

Belated reports reaching Sun.Star Davao identified the victim as Rowena Romano. She was reportedly attacked by a saltwater crocodile along Bunawan, Agusan del Sur at about 6 p.m. Friday last week.

It was learned that the girl was riding a banca in Lake Mihaba when attacked by the crocodile.

The attack happened Friday but it wasn't until Monday that rescuers found the girl's headless body floating on the lake.

Residents in the area were readily alerted and asked to evacuate their homes for fear of more attacks by the killer crocodile.

It was learned that Romano was with the Save Mindanao Volunteers and were getting supplies from their houses when the attack happened.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) are now looking for the crocodile to capture it.
The saltwater crocodile, which can be found in the Philippines and other Asian countries, is considered as the world's largest reptile. Scientifically known as Crocodylus porosus, it is different from Mindoro's freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis), which is a relatively smaller species.

An adult saltwater crocodile measures between six to seven meters (20-23 feet) and weighs about two to three tons. There were tales that a 27-foot saltwater crocodile was killed near Lake Taal in Batangas in 1823. It reportedly took 40 men to bring the body ashore. When the men cut the crocodile's body open, they found the body of a horse in seven pieces. The largest crocodile ever sighted was a 33-footer in Borneo in 1920. It was believed to be 200 years old. BOT

ibtl Pictures, Images and Photos

Friday, March 6, 2009