Gov’t intel eyes 3 groups abetting Sulu sultan’s claim Created on March 1, 2013, 3:34 am Posted by nup

Whether the heirs of the sultanate of Sulu acted on their own to reclaim Sabah or were instigated by an external force to do so, one thing is certain, according to government intelligence sources: It was a business that proved too big for the heirs to handle on their own.

The sources said that the Philippine government’s policy on Sabah is to keep it in the back burner.

But apparently “some people” want to push it forward now. And why now, at this time, is one of the questions government intelligence is looking into.

The sources consistently mentioned three groups that appear to have taken advantage of the decision of the Kirams to pursue their Sabah claim.

“These are groups that wanted to ride on the Kirams’ pursuit with their own interests in mind,” one of the sources said.

Another source added: “There are a lot who can gain from this, not just in the Philippines but in Malaysia as well.”

These “external factors,” as an Inquirer source described the groups, are one small faction that is in it for the money, an anti-Aquino administration group, and the Malaysian political opposition.

“The Kirams planned to pursue their claim as early as last year. But they went to Lahad Datu also on the instigation of these groups,” the intelligence officer said.

The small group supposedly goaded the Kirams to ask Malaysia for a higher rent on Sabah. If Malaysia gives in, this small group would allegedly have a share of the increase.

The anti-administration group simply wants to discredit President Aquino and is using the peace process as a cause of disenchantment for the Kirams.

“All those who do not like P-Noy (the President’s nickname) have joined forces. This is one way to really test how this administration will react (to such an issue). Whatever happens in Malaysia, there will be a backlash on us,” one source said.

“In a way, whoever wants to disrupt the peace process or the gains of President Aquino has already won,” the source added.

The third group is allegedly the Malaysian political opposition, which is gearing up for general elections that may be called before June.

The intelligence officer said that one member of the Malaysian political opposition allied with Anwar Ibrahim was running for a post in Sabah.

“Apparently, this politician was one of those who spoke with the Kirams. He supposedly gave the opposition’s support to the Kirams’ claim to Sabah,” the source said.

November meeting

The source also believed that in their meeting in November last year, the Kirams decided to “reclaim Sabah or at least ask for a compensation for Sabah that is commensurate to the land’s value today, and for the royal family to be given due recognition by Malaysia.”

But it is being Tausug that is keeping Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, his family, and their subjects stubbornly pressing their renewed claim to Sabah, even to the extent of defying President Aquino, one of the Inquirer sources said.

“This is the last stand of Sultan Jamalul. Being Tausug, they already gave their word they would pursue their claim. This is now do or die for them just to keep their word of honor,” the source, a senior military officer, told the Inquirer.

But for another security administrator analyzing the events of the past three weeks, the Kirams appear to be quite edgy of late.

“They are confused. The government is hopeful that we can buy more time, find a diplomatic way out,” the source said, referring to the government’s efforts to help settle the standoff between Malaysian security forces and an armed group led by Jamalul’s brother, Agbimuddin Kiram, in Tanduao village in Lahad Datu town now in its third week.

Kiram unity

The Inquirer’s sources are from the diplomatic and defense establishments. They asked not to be named as they were not authorized to speak to journalists about their analysis of developments in the so-called journey home to Sabah of the Kirams.

The source said the Kirams decided to unite because they felt left out of the peace negotiations between the Aquino administration and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which signed a premilinary peace deal last October.

Calling gov’t attention

“The Kirams wanted to get the attention of the Philippine government,” the source said.

“For so many years, the family felt they have been exploited in politics. Sultan Jamalul was goaded to run for senator in 2010 but he lost. Then their letter to President Aquino (in 2010 before he assumed office) got lost,” the source said.

The source said the Kirams and their followers “conceived the details of the plan to go to Lahad Datu” in late January this year.

“In February, a small group of the Kirams’ followers left for Lahad Datu, followed by Raja Muda Agbimuddin,” the source said.

The estimated 70 firearms now in the hands of the group holed up in Tanduao are owned by residents in Lahad Datu, Tausug and Badjao holding Malaysian identification cards, the source said.

Malaysian security forces have encircled Agbimuddin’s group but are holding action, with the grace period for the group to leave having been extended three times and a fourth being requested by the Philippine government.

Malaysians careful

The Inquirer’s military source said the impasse continues because the Malaysians are extra careful in dealing with Agbimmudin’s group.

“They are all Muslims and they know that if there is violence, it would go on forever. There are 800,000 Filipinos in Sabah. It would be a huge problem in Sabah if violence erupts. The Malaysian security forces may end up dealing with guerrillas or a rido,” the source said, using a Muslim term for clan war.

No report of human trafficking in areas hit by Pablo Created on February 28, 2013, 6:05 am Posted by nup

AN OFFICIAL of the Inter-agency Council Against Human Trafficking (Iacat) Davao Region said Wednesday they have yet to receive reports of human trafficking from areas affected by Typhoon Pablo.

Regional prosecutor Antonio Arellano, chair of Iacat, said they have addressed the high possibility of human trafficking incident in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental provinces, two of the most inflicted areas, after the devastation.

He said he wrote a letter addressed to Chief Superintendent Jaime H. Morente, director of the Police Regional Office (PRO), through its task force leader for human trafficking Supt. Federico Dulay, relaying the need for "enhanced preventive measures" against human trafficking.

"With the concrete destruction brought by the typhoon, residents will be primarily dependent with the LGU (local government unit). In these trying times, they are very vulnerable to exploitation and abuse," he said in the same letter.

He said they can detect and address this problem, but the dilemma is now on the means of transportation.

"The danger is more on the possibility that they will be brought out of the region to other areas by land and even by air. And you cannot stop this people as far as domestic travel is concerned because there is a freedom to travel as far as our law is concerned," Arellano told Sun.Star Davao.

He said they are coordinating with the counterparts in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) and Zamboanga Peninsula, especially in Zamboanga and Sulu.

"We also send our task force in evacuation centers where they conduct lectures to the victims informing them of the dangers of the possibilities of human trafficking and its nature," he said.

The lectures have been conducted in Compostela Valley, particularly in New Bataan.

Bernardo Mondragon, executive director of Child Alert, earlier said victims of Typhoon Pablo will become more vulnerable to human trafficking as demand for food increases in the areas.

He said traffickers find disaster areas perfect for human trafficking due to loss of income and livelihood of the residents.

"That's always the case during calamity because the traffickers think the place itself provides supply for trafficking," Mondragon said.

Mondragon said victims are vulnerable since their initial priority is to find ways to have food, clothing, shelter and other basic needs for the family. Worse, because vast farmlands were destroyed, this means thousands are not only homeless but have also lost their source of livelihood.

SC affirms legality of Smartmatic contract on compact flash Created on February 27, 2013, 2:03 am Posted by nup

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court affirmed Tuesday the legality of the contract awarding the compact flash contract to Smartmatic which will be used in the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

In its ruling, the high court dismissed the petition filed by LDLA Marketing for lack of jurisdiction.

The high court said petitioners should have followed the procedure stated under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations.

Under the law, the disqualified or losing bidder should file a motion for reconsideration with the Bids and Awards Committee, in case of denial, file a protest with the Head of the Procuring Entity (HOPE), in this case, the Comelec Chairperson or the Comelec en banc.

“It is only after the HOPE has resolved the protest that the bidder may resort to the regular courts under Section 58 of RA 9184,” the high court explained.

Section 58 provides that “Court action may be resorted to only after the protests contemplated in this Article shall have been completed. Cases that are filed in violation of the process specified in this Article shall be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The regional trial court shall have jurisdiction over final decision of the head of the procuring entity…”

Petitioner LDLA did not avail of the remedies provided by the law and under existing jurisprudence, the court is without jurisdiction to hear the petition because “compliance with the mandatory protest mechanisms of the law is jurisdictional in character.”

Smartmatic got the contract for transmission modems as the sole bidder, while it got the contracts for transmission services and the CF cards through negotiated contracts after failed biddings.

 

Diocese ordered to remove ‘Team Patay’ list Created on February 27, 2013, 2:01 am Posted by nup

BACOLOD CITY—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has ordered the Diocese of Bacolod to remove the tarpaulin hanging at San Sebastian Cathedral, which identifies the senatorial candidates whom the faithful should support and reject for their stance on the reproductive health (RH) law.

Mavil Majarucon-Sia, Bacolod election officer, said the tarpaulin, which was 6 feet by 10 feet, violated the election law that limits the size of campaign posters.

The allowable size is only 2 feet by 3 feet, she added.

He said he has sent a notice to Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra to remove the tarpaulin by today (Monday) or the Comelec would take it down.

“The bishop told us he would comply,” she said.

But Fr. Felix Pasquin, rector of San Sebastian Cathedral, said Sunday Navarra had the matter studied by their lawyer and they were seeking a definitive opinion from the Comelec legal department on the matter.

“The tarpaulin is on private property and is an expression of their moral stand against the RH law. It should not be classified as campaign material,” he said.

Pasquin said the “Team Patay”/“Team Buhay” tarpaulin on the right side of the church’s facade is an answer to the tarpaulin they earlier put up on the left side calling for the junking of the RH law that bares a quotation from Acts 5:29 that says, “We must obey God rather than men.”

The Diocese of Bacolod identified seven senatorial candidates whom they tagged as members of “Team Patay” and asked the faithful not to support them for voting in favor of the RH law.

They were Juan Edgardo Angara, Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda, Alan Peter Cayetano, Risa Hontiveros, Teddy Casiño and Jack Enrile.

Partylist groups Gabriela, Bayan Muna, Akbayan and Anak Pawis are also on the “Team Patay” list.

The six senatorial candidates that the Diocese of Bacolod identified as prolife, or as members of “Team Buhay” for voting against the RH law, are Joseph Victor Ejercito-Estrada, Antonio Trillanes, Gregorio Honasan, Mitos Magsaysay, Koko Pimentel and Cynthia Villar.

- See more at: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/364351/diocese-ordered-to-remove-team-patay-list#sthash.z8pUyDeA.dpuf

Drilon shrugs off Senate presidency rumors Created on February 26, 2013, 7:21 am Posted by nup

The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) is barking at the wrong tree.
 
This was how Senator Franklin Drilon addressed reports that Team PNoy is eyeing a sweep victory in the 2013 senatorial race to support his senate presidency in the next Congress.
 
“I will not dignify those statements because I am not a candidate. They are barking up the wrong tree,” Drilon told reporters in a weekly press conference.
 

Drilon, who will reportedly replace Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, reminded UNA he is not running for re-election.
 
He insisted for the opposition to be more focused on presenting their platforms instead of spreading rumor to propel their campaign.
 
“We are more focused on presenting Team PNoy as a team, which fully supports President Aquino’s platform of good governance which in turn has resulted in an improved economy and better social and health services,” Drilon said.
 
“The issue is whether we are for good governance. If they say otherwise, it’s up to them as long as they spell my name correctly,” he added.
 
Re-electionist Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III introduced Drilon, who is serving as Team PNoy’s campaign manager, as “the next Senate President.” 
 
This triggered a 'conspiracy theory' idea from the opposition, which alleged that a 12-0 victory will be enough to install a new senate president in the 16th president.
 
“For all intents and purposes, it is the members of the 16th Congress who will choose the next Senate President.” Drilon said.
 
“These are the issues in the campaign and the senate presidency in the 16th Congress is a question that the senators will decide upon as an independent body, since the Senate has been known for its independence by law and by tradition,” Drilon said.
 
“By law, the 16th Congress will have a new set of officers, both the Senate and the House will elect its officers with the new Congress council, who believers of the House and the Senate will be is a matter for each House in chair,” he added.
 
“Let’s just move on and instruct what the people are looking for and what this campaign is all about. And this campaign for the Team PNOY is a campaign on good governance. It’s a platform that we should carry on, until the end of the elections,” he said.

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