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Zamboanga Sibugay News December 2011

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Earthquake jolts Zamboanga

by Bong Garcia

AN EARTHQUAKE of tectonic origin jolted several parts of Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Regional Monitoring chief Allan Labayog said Friday.

Labayog said the earthquake registered a magnitude of 5.6 at the Richter scale with epicenter at 08.03 degrees north, 122.68 degrees east with a depth of two kilometers north and 57 degrees east of Tampilisan municipality, Zamboanga del Norte.

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Labayog said Intensity 3 (“weak”) was registered in Ipil, the capital of Zamboanga Sibugay province, and Intensity 2 (“slightly felt”) in Dipolog, the capital of Zamboanga del Norte, and in Zamboanga City.

Intensity 1 (“scarcely perceptible”) was recorded in the towns of Labason, Manukan, Polangco, and Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte province, Labayog said.

No property damage was reported as well as there are no expected aftershocks, he said. (Bong Garcia)

Jail protest turns bloody in Dipolog City

by Mindanao Examiner

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY, Philippines – One inmate was killed and two others were taken hostage by a group of prisoners on Wednesday at a jail facility in Dipolog City in Zamboanga del Norte, police said.

Police and jail officials did not say what the prisoners were protesting about, but other reports said they were complaining about the poor conditions in the crowded jail.

It was not immediately known why they killed the prisoner who was identified as Danilo Adanza or whether he was a member of a gang at war with the protesters.

The prisoners also took two others hostage. Police said the prisoners were also demanding to speak to media and provincial governor Rolando Yebes.

Prime Movers’ Forum held in Zambo Norte, Sibugay

by PIA Press Release

PAGADIAN CITY, Dec. 28 (PIA) -- Two Information Officers’ Fora were recently conducted by the Department of Agriculture-Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Information Division (DA-RAFID) in the provinces of Zamboanga Peninsula, first in Zamboanga del Norte and second in Zamboanga Sibugay. Dubbed as the “Prime Movers’ Forum: Advocating and Mobilizing Information Officers Towards Food Sufficiency, the activity aimed to update participants with the Agri-Pinoy Programs on Rice, Corn, High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP), Livestock and Special Projects; discuss the roles of information officers; Discuss various communication approaches, challenges, and harmonization of efforts in promoting agricultural plans, programs and projects; Enhance advocates’ knowledge on social mobilization process which starts with advocacy along with IEC; Refresh advocates’ knowledge in formulating operational plans; and Organize a network of agricultural information officers who are passionate in the pursuit of food sufficiency. To speed-up the dissemination of DA’s programs, a networking of provincial and municipal information officers is needed to ensure that agricultural plans, programs and projects of the national government harmonize with their efforts in agricultural information. Capability building followed after establishing a network with the LGUs. Topics discussed were: Updates on Advocacy and IEC Process and Strategies; The Role of Information Officers, Issues & Concerns and Networking; Social Mobilization and Communication Convergence; Production and Design of Advocacy and IEC Materials and Planning and Designing of Advocacy and IEC Campaigns. These were shared by Noel T. Provido, a multi-awarded writer and chief of the Information, Advocacy, Communications and Education (InfoACE) Unit under the Program Support Office (PSO) of the DA’s Mindanao Rural Development Program,(DA-MRDP), Sherwin B. Manual, Information and Advocacy Specialist, also from DA-MRDP and Maria Melba B. Wee, Chief of DA-RAFID. DA region 9 Director Eduardo B. Holoyohoy said “We assure our support to the local government units and I am encouraging a harmonious teamwork between the DA regional office and the LGUs.” Dr. Aida P. Carino, Regional Technical Director for Planning, Policy and Research is hopeful that the pool of Information Officers regionwide would motivate the farmers and fisherfolks to be proud of their career as the nation’s provider of food. She said, “We should look at agriculture as an enterprise and that there is money in agriculture, thus the farmers/fisherfolk can stand tall and proudly say, I am a farmer.” She added “first, we have to develop and sustain agriculture before we shift to industrialization. Our strength is in agriculture. The farmers/fisherfolk can be profitable businessmen and you are the best group to disseminate this message.” Meanwhile,the Prime Movers’ Forum for Zambonga del Sur participants is scheduled on the last week of January next year at Hotel Guillermo, Pagadian City. (ytavellaneda/DA9/PIA9/alt)

DSWD conducts Rapid Assessment in armed conflict areas in Payao

by PIA Press Release

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Dec. 25 (PIA) -- After a recent encounter between the government and opposing forces in the municipality of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) went to conduct a Rapid Assessment on affected barangays. These barangays are Labatan, San Roque, Dalama, Minundas and Mayabo. The assessment aims to provide the victims of the armed conflict short term support through the distribution of relief goods and long term intervention through the livelihood projects of the department. Team head, DSWD Regional Dir. Teodulo Romo, led the team in coming up with a work plan to conduct the assessment. Interventions on agricultural/fisheries, psychological and economic aspects were some of the essential matters discussed during the planning stage. On the day of the rapid assessment, a dialogue between the victims and the assessment team took place. Issues on security and long term assistance were raised by the affected residents of the area. Concerns on health conditions were also brought up as children were already getting sick because of evacuation to far areas. In turn, the health officers committed to conduct a medical mission to address this. The residents also expressed their fear that the incident might happen again in the future, and in response, the PNP committed to provide a police outpost on some of the critical areas in Payao. Evacuees were also brought back to their homes. The Rapid Assessment was also done in partnership with the Local Government Unit, the Department of Health and the Office of Civil Defense. (JPA/DIS/DSWD9/PIA-ZBST)

Rebels torch construction trucks in Zamboanga


ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 23, 2011) – Suspected communist rebels torched construction trucks owned by a private company working on an infrastructure site in Zamboanga del Sur province in the southern Philippines, police and military said Friday.

Authorities blamed the attack on the New People’s Army which is fighting for a separate Maoist state in the country. It said the attack occurred late Thursday in Josefina town.

There were no reports of casualties and police said extortion could be the motive for the attack.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the raid, but the NPA is actively operating in the province. (Mindanao Examiner)

Vice mayor of Zamboanga Sibugay town shot dead


MANILA, Philippines – Unidentified gunman shot to death a vice mayor of a Zamboanga Sibugay town this morning, a radio report said.

The victim was identified as Carlito Bayawa, vice mayor of Siay town, sustained multiple gunshot wounds in different parts of his body.

He was attack while he was on his way to an ATM machine in the province's capital town of Ipil.

The victim's wife, Susan, was also hurt during the incident and is currently recuperating in the local hospital in Ipil town.

Police operatives are still conducting hot pursuit operation against the suspect who flee on board a motorcycle.

Seized Australian lands in Abu Sayyaf hands


ZAMBOANGA CITY: Authorities said a kidnapped Australian is now being held by a notorious Abu Sayyaf group blamed for terrorism in Mindanao.

Warren Rodwell, 53, was kidnapped from his home on December 5 in the town of Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay province, about 120 kms east of here.

“We have confirmation that Warren Rodwell is being held by the group of Abu Sayyaf leader Puruji Indama in Basilan province. We have stepped up efforts to locate Rodwell and his captors,” Army Colonel Ricardo Visaya, commander of the 104th Infantry Brigade, said.

The military said that Rodwell was kidnapped by a local gang with links to the Abu Sayyaf in the Muslim province of Basilan. Police also linked Barahama Ali, a commander of the larger rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front which is currently negotiating peace with Manila, to the kidnapping.

Visaya said they still do not know whether the two rebel groups had merged or if Rodwell was “sold” or handed over to the Abu Sayyaf. “We still don’t know whether the groups of Ali and Indama have merged or not, but Rodwell is now in the hands of Indama,” he said.

Rodwell - a former soldier in the Australian army and a prolific world traveler – married a Filipina Miraflor Gutang, 27, in June in Ipil town weeks after the two met through the Internet.

Gutang has appealed to the kidnappers to free her husband, saying he is not rich and ill, but she did not elaborate on his condition.

Authorities have tagged Indama as behind the kidnapping of a US woman Gerfa Lunsmann and her son Kevin Eric, and a Filipino relative in July in Zamboanga City. The trio was released separately after the woman’s husband Heiko Lunsmann paid a huge ransom to the Abu Sayyaf.

Indama was also blamed to numerous kidnappings in Basilan and Zamboanga City in recent years. Some of his victims were killed after their families failed to pay ransoms.

His group was also tagged as behind the beheadings of civilians and government soldiers in clashes in Basilan, just several nautical miles south of Zamboanga City.

The Abu Sayyaf, tied by the police and military to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya, has kidnapped over a dozen people in the past years in the southern Philippines and is still holding an Indian, two Malaysians and a Japanese man.

Australian’s kidnappers posed as policemen – witnesses


ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY: A Filipino farming couple said they have witnessed how gunmen dragged an Australian man they kidnapped in the southern Philippine province of Zamboanga Sibugay.

Joel Bulay, 44, and his wife, Rosanna, 41, said they witnessed how Warren Rodwell, 56, was being dragged away by gunmen who introduced themselves as policemen.

“We saw the man they call Warren Rodwell as he was being dragged away at gunpoint by four men. One of the men who was armed with an M16 rifle told us not to be afraid because they are policemen as they hurriedly dragged the white man and they disappeared in the dark over there in the bushes that lead to the river and the open sea,” said Joel as he points to the horizon outside the family’s grass hut in the village of Pangi where the kidnappers had escaped.

“I was really scared, so scared that I was trembling in fear and could do nothing because we fear for our safety. One of my girls, who is five years old, suspected it was kidnapping and I told her to keep quiet because we are scared the gunmen will take us and use our family as shield in their escape,” he said.

The farmer said he saw Rodwell in handcuffs as two of the gunmen were holding the foreigner tightly in both his arms and another man, armed with pistol, pushed him to walk faster as the fourth kidnapper pulled him by his cuffs.

Rosanna said they heard one gunshot in Rodwell’s house and then saw the gunmen dragging the foreigner to the bushes. “He could hardly walk as if he was in pain, but we did not hear anything from Rodwell as they passed by our house. He did not say anything and we are not sure if Rodwell saw us,” she said, adding the kidnapping coincided with a mysterious blackout in the subdivision.

“It was really mysterious. The kidnappers struck just as the lights went off and only in our subdivision and electricity came back an hour later,” the woman said.

Security officials said Rodwell might have been shot and wounded by the kidnappers during a struggle.

Government troops continue their search for Rodwell on Thursday, but there have been no reports about the former Australian army soldier. Rodwell married a 27-year old Filipina woman - Mariflor Gutang – in June this year after a short “Internet” love affair and moved to Ipil town where he bought a house which is heavily barbed and corralled.

Rodwell’s neighbors described him as a strict man, others said he is arrogant and would often drive away people staring or passing near his house. “He is really strict and perceived as arrogant. He would drive people away and he does not want neighbors near his house. He does not speak to us or mingles with his neighbors,” Joel said.

But Merly Suan, 18, described Rodwell as a silent man who goes by his everyday life alone. “He sometimes smiles at me if I see him in his motorbike. I think he is a good man and we pity him. We pray for his safety,” she said.

Rodwell’s wife left him after a fight last month and now lives with her parents in their ancestral home in the town of Naga also in Zamboanga Sibugay province. She has appealed to the kidnappers to free Rodwell, saying he is not rich and is ill.

Aussie's captors contacted gov, says security official

by Roel Pareño

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – The kidnappers of an Australian national have reportedly contacted Zamboanga Sibugay Gov. Rommel Jalosjos to open possible negotiations for the victim’s release, a security official said yesterday. The source, who asked not to be named due to a “news blackout” on the kidnapping, said the captors of Warren Richard Rodwell did not demand anything yet, except saying that they wanted to negotiate directly with Jalosjos. The source could not immediately say when the kidnappers contacted the governor, adding though that they “apparently contacted twice.” Authorities could not confirm the reported contact, but expressed surprise how the kidnappers managed to get the cell phone number of the governor. Jalosjos, who imposed the news blackout, refused to answer calls or queries on the supposed contact by the kidnappers. Chief Superintendent Elpedio de Asis, Region 9 police director, declined to confirm or deny the information, saying only the local crisis management committee is authorized to make any statement on the case. Director Felicisimo Khu, chief of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operation in Western Mindanao, and Ipil Mayor Aldwin Alibutdan, head of the crisis management committee, also declined to answer calls. But a security source said the cell phone number used by the kidnappers in calling Jalosjos is now being tracked down. Authorities suspect the kidnappers may have brought 56-year-old Rodwell to Basilan, a known turf of Abu Sayyaf militants who have been involved in several ransom kidnappings. Rodwell was seized from his home in Barangay Upper Pangi, Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay last Dec. 5.

NPAs assault military post, 2 wounded

by Al Jacinto, Correspondent

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY: Communist rebels attacked a Davao City military detachment wounding two village women, officials said Wednesday. Officials said the attack occurred at around 6.40 p.m. in the village of Malabog in Paquibato district.

The woman, wife of a government militia, was in the house about 100 meters from the detachment when New People’s Army rebels sprayed the post with automatic gunfire.

Another woman, who belongs to the Ata Manobo tribe, was also wounded in the attack.

“The woman was injured when rebels harassed the Golden Shower detachment in the village. Estila Resaba, a mother of eight (children), the wife of government militia Jerry Resaba, was inside their house, about 100 meters from the outpost, when rebels opened fire,” said Army Lieutenant Colonel Lyndon Paniza, a spokesman for the 10th Infantry Division.

He said more troops would be sent to Paquibato to protect the civilians from rebel attacks. “With what happened, there is an urgent need for our troops in the areas of Paquibato. We will also intensify our forces to secure the safety of civilians in every community,” he said.

Kidnappers slip through military dragnet

by Al Jacinto, Correspondent

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY: Gunmen who kidnapped an Australian soldier-turned-teacher may have escaped a massive military and police dragnet in the small seaside town of Ipil here. Authorities have deployed hundreds of soldiers and policemen to search for the 53-year old Warren Rodwell of Sydney, following a daring kidnapping that had embarrassed security officials and triggered a new wave of travel warnings from Australia and the United Kingdom. Both countries are staunch allies of the Philippines in its fight against homegrown terrorism.

The Western Mindanao Command, which has control over half of the military forces in the volatile south, said Rodwell was kidnapped by a local gang with links to the small, but the most notorious terror group called the Abu Sayyaf – blamed for the spate of bombings and kidnappings of foreigners and wealthy Filipino traders in the past two decades.

“There is a possibility that the kidnappers are no longer in Ipil. It’s been a week now since the kidnapping and we don’t know where they are right now, but the operation is still going on to track down the kidnappers and their captive Warren Rodwell,” Mayor Edwin Alibutdan said in an interview.

Alibutdan, who heads the local crisis management committee handling the kidnapping case, said no individual or group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. “There is no specific group that claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. There is no contact with the kidnappers and Rodwell’s family has not received any demand for ransom,” he said.

He said he would convene a joint police and military peace and order council to tackle the progress of the government’s rescue efforts and to determine whether the kidnappers and their hostage are still within the town’s hinterlands or had escaped the massive operation.

“We just want to be sure whether the kidnappers and their captive are still here or no longer here and to take the necessary steps to protect foreigners coming in and out of Ipil,” he said.

Alibutdan has ordered additional security patrol and told police and military to put up more detachments in coastal areas to prevent lawless elements from sneaking into the town which was pillaged by the Abu Sayyaf in 1995 that left 53 people dead.

“The fear of terrorism is deeply rooted among locals because of what happened in 1995. Even now we get news of impending attacks in Ipil and these cause great fear to my people and I assure them that I will not allow terror to again reign in their hearts and minds,” he said.

Locals said they always see Alibutdan leading village patrol during nighttime. “I have no fear. If I show fear, then all my people will be afraid, scared of everything. I don’t even bring bodyguards around with me. The people are vigilant here,” the Mayor said.

Rodwell, who now teaches English language in universities in China, is married to a Filipino woman Miraflor Gutang, 27. Rodwell met the woman in May this year on the Internet and married her the next month after dating her in Zamboanga City.

Alibutdan officiated the civil wedding in Ipil, but months into their rocky marriage, the woman filed two complaints with the police against Rodwell, accusing him of maltreatment, and left him last month after an argument, and stayed with her family in the neighboring town of Naga.

Police said Rodwell’s Filipino neighbors also complained about the foreigner’s arrogance and attitude and often chased away people who would go near his bungalow-type house surrounded by barbed fence and hanged a huge sign that reads “No Trespassing. Pribado.”

News blackout could endanger hostage - expert

by Lindsay Murdoch, Al Jacinto In Zamboanga City

AN EXPERT on insurgencies in the southern Philippines says the Australian government's news blackout on the abduction of Sydney adventurer Warren Rodwell could further imperil his life. Bob East from the University of Southern Queensland, who has written a PhD and other research papers on the insurgencies, says the media should be free to report all aspects of the kidnapping. If the kidnappers believe their hostage is unimportant then his chances of survival are indeed minimal, Dr East told the Herald.

After all, if the prime reason for the kidnapping is profit, and there is no profit to be made, then there is no point in keeping their quarry, he said. The governor of Zamboanga Sibugay, Rommel Jalosjos, imposed a news blackout on the kidnapping last week at the request of Australian officials who travelled to the restive Mindanao province to help efforts to free Mr Rodwell, 53, who was abducted by four men posing as policemen last Monday. The decision to impose a news blackout contradicts the recommendations of a Senate inquiry last month that Australian authorities handling the kidnappings of Australians overseas should co-operate with the media, not ignore it. Dr East, who has researched the insurgencies over years, said Mr Rodwell may have been kidnapped by criminals who like to be seen as members of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist organisation which is portrayed as having ambitions for creating a pure Islamic state in the southern Philippines. He said these criminals take advantage of inadequate law enforcement in that part of the Philippines to pursue their agenda - terrorism for profit. Dr East wrote in a research paper the organisation which used to be well disciplined is now only comprised of bandits and criminals whose only agenda is greed and violence and any claim to be doing so in the name of a higher authority is pure fantasy and heresy. The Philippine military says it suspects a gang linked to the Abu Sayyaf is behind Mr Rodwell's kidnapping. It has also not ruled out gangs with links to other claimed separatist groups or local criminal gangs. The release at the weekend of an American teenage hostage in the same area Mr Rodwell was abducted has raised hopes negotiators will be able to secure his release, if the same group is responsible. Fourteen-year-old Kevin Lunsmann, his mother, Gerfa Yeatts Lunsmann, 42 and a Filipino relative Romnick Jakaria, 19, were kidnapped in Zamboanga City in July. Mrs Lunsman and Mr Jakaria were freed earlier. It is not known if ransoms were paid. The kidnappers were demanding a ransom of 50 million Philippines pesos ($1.3 million) for the teenager. Kidnappers are also still believed to be holding an Indian, two Malaysians and a Japanese man on Basilan island, a stronghold for rebels. Mr Rodwell, who married a Filipina, Miraflor Gutang, 27, in June after an internet romance, was kidnapped from a house he bought in a village near the seaside town of Ipil, 130 kilometres from Zamboanga City. He was shot in the foot as he struggled with kidnappers before he was dragged away. Security forces have launched a big hunt for Mr Rodwell, a prolific world traveller who taught English in China for more than eight years after leaving Sydney a decade ago. Ms Gutang has appealed for the release of her husband, saying he is unwell and she has no money to pay a ransom.

News blackout slammed on Australian kidnapping


ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY: A Filipino governor, whose province is where a former Australian army soldier was recently kidnapped, has imposed a news blackout about the progress of the government operation to the foreigner.

Warren Rodwell, 53, was seized by gunmen from his home in Greenmeadows Subdivision on December 5. He was also shot in the foot while trying to fight off the kidnappers, a security spokesman said.

Governor Rommel Jalosjos said the news blackout will run until the situation improves in the province. He said he would also pass a resolution for all foreign residents in the province to coordinate with the provincial government for their own safety.

“We are a democracy and as such, they (foreigners) don’t have to make ‘paalam,’ (to tell us they are staying here) but because of this incident, I will be passing a resolution for all foreign visitors to coordinate with the provincial government so we can easily monitor them,” he told reporters.

It was not immediately known how many foreigners are present in Zamboanga Sibugay, but Luisa Morrison, the Filipino wife of a Scottish national was also kidnapped in September by rebels and taken to Basilan province where she was rescued by army soldiers following a firefight a week later.

Jalosjos said he had a meeting with Australian government officials and the Federal police in Zamboanga about Rodwell, but he did not what was discussed. “They just wanted to touch base with me and I offered them whatever assistance we can give including logistical support,” he said.

He said the kidnappers have not contacted Rodwell’s Filipino family or made a ransom demand. The Sydney man married Miraflor Gutang, 27, in June after they met on the internet.

“Whoever had kidnapped my husband, he is not rich. Return him to us and please don’t hurt him. My husband is ill,” Gutang said without elaborating as she appealed to Rodwell’s captors during a brief radio interview.

Security forces have launched a massive search in the province and nearby areas which included the Muslim province of Basilan, a known stronghold of Abu Sayyaf militants with links to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya.

The military said a local gang with links to the Abu Sayyaf was behind Rodwell’s kidnapping, but authorities are also looking into the possible involvement of some members of the larger rebel group called Moro Islamic Liberation Front which is currently negotiating peace with Manila.

MILF rebels had been previously tagged by authorities in numerous kidnappings for ransom of foreigners in the troubled region. Kidnappers are still holding an Indian national, two Malaysians, a US teenager and a Japanese man in

Zamboanga Sibugay governor accused of blocking probe by ceasefire monitors


GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines—The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has accused Zamboanga Sibugay Governor Rommel Jalosjos of blocking an investigation by an international panel of a clash between government forces and MILF guerrillas in the municipality of Payao last October. Mohagher Iqbal, MILF chief negotiator, even made the failure of the International Monitoring Team to conduct the investigation due to Jalosjos’ alleged interference part of his opening statement during the recent talks in Kuala Lumpur. “We are jolted by the failure of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) to proceed with the investigation of the fighting in the municipality of Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay,” he said. “That is correct,” Jalosjos told the Inquirer by phone on Friday. “I didn’t allow them to go to Payao because they did not follow proper protocol.” He said the IMT was rude because it did not coordinate with him during their previous visits. When they finally did, it was already too late to prepare, Jalosjos said. “What angered me most was the November 19-21 investigation schedule they made. They even sent me a last-minute itinerary last November 18 and there was supposedly a courtesy meeting with me but November 21 concluded and no one showed up for that courtesy meeting,” he said. The IMT investigation, aimed at establishing the cause of the fighting, was agreed upon by the government and the MILF peace panels. Said Shiek, head of the MILF contingent to the joint ceasefire committee, said the IMT mission to Zamboanga Sibugay did not push through as scheduled last December 5 to 8 because Jalosjos did not allow it. “To be very frank with you, it is not the failure of the IMT to investigate which is disheartening, which can be temporary, for any day from now they can decide to go… but it is the decision of Governor Rommel Jalosjos of Zamboanga Sibugay to defy the decision of the government through its peace panel to conduct the investigation, in compliance with a standing commitment in the peace negotiation,” Iqbal said. “If a local government executive can oppose decisions of government in such an important but still a relatively minor case, how much more if the stakes are already high, say a comprehensive compact between the GPH and MILF?” Iqbal added. He said the MILF could not understand why Jalosjos would block the investigation when it was meant to ferret out the truth. “Seriously, we cannot understand why Governor Jalosjos chose to stand in the way of the investigation: to hide the truth or to show that he can stand up against the President?” Iqbal asked. Jalosjos said another reason for turning down the IMT’s visit to Payao was that some of its members were Caucasians. “They are high-profile targets (for kidnapping). It’s my responsibility when it comes to their safety; they know what happened here,” he said, apparently referring to the Dec. 5 of an Australian national. The IMT consists of representatives from Malaysia, Japan, the European Union (including British, French and Dutch), and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, among others. “We find no reasonable ground for the IMT (mission)… not to be allowed… The wrong stance of the governor should be corrected by the government otherwise he becomes more supreme than the peace policy of the Aquino administration,” Shiek said.

Filipino gang with links to Sayyaf blamed for kidnapping of Aussie man


ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 7, 2011) – Philippine authorities tagged a gang with links to the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group as behind the kidnapping of an Australian man in Zamboanga Sibugay province in the restive region of Mindanao.

Warren Rodwell, 53, had been seized on December 5 by several gunmen after he was shot in the foot while trying to fight off the kidnappers who barged in his house in the coastal town of Ipil, said Army Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command.

“Based on witness account, Rodwell was shot in the foot while trying to fight off the kidnappers, who are members of a local gang, but with links to the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan province,” he said without further elaborating.

Rodwell, who is married to a Filipina, Miraflor Gutang, 27, also known as Grace, was alone in the house when gunmen seized him.

Cabangbang said security forces have launched a massive search for Rodwell in the Zamboanga Peninsula which is made up of the provinces of Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte and Basilan.

He said the kidnappers escaped toward the sea with their captive, but it was unknown whether they managed to flee the town. He said the kidnappers have not contacted the foreigner’s wife or made any demand for his release.

Army Colonel Gerry Barientos, commander of the 102nd Infantry Brigade based in Ipil, said they deployed troops to track down the kidnappers, who could still be in the province. “We have deployed more soldiers in the province to track down the kidnappers and the hostage. They could still be in the province,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.

Local reporters who were able to interview Rodwell’s wife said she made an appeal to the kidnappers to free the Australian man, saying they don't have money (to pay ransom).

In September this year, kidnappers also seized the Filipino wife of a Scottish national in Ipil town - Luisa Galvez Morrison - and brought her by boat to Basilan province where she was rescued by soldiers a week later following a firefight with the Abu Sayyaf. (Mindanao Examiner)

Australian kidnapped in Zambo Sibugay


ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY, Philippines - Unidentified armed men kidnapped an Australian in Ipil town, Zamboanga Sibugay province on Monday, the military said.

The victim was identified as Warren Richard Rodwell, a resident of Green Meadow Subdivision in Barangay Lower Pangi, Ipil.

His kidnappers were last spotted heading south toward the sea, according to Lt. Col. Randy Cabangcabang, spokesman of the military's Western Mindanao Command.

Soldiers and police are pursuing the kidnappers as of posting. - report from ABS-CBN Zamboanga

Army major reported missing in Zamboanga Sibugay

by Julie S. Alipala

Inquirer Mindanao

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – An Army major was reported missing after the vehicle he and his men were riding was flagged down by several armed men, believed to be New People’s Army rebels, on a highway in Barangay (village) Guinoman in Diplahan, Zamboanga Sibugay, early Saturday morning, the police reported. Senior Superintendent Ruben Cariaga, Zamboanga Sibugay police chief, identified the Army officer as Major Ramon Torres. He said Torres, of the 102nd Infantry Brigade, and five other soldiers were on a Mitsubishi pickup owned by TVI Mining from Ipil town and were going to Bayog in Zamboanga del Sur when about 40 armed men flagged them down around 7:25 a.m. Torres, he said, reportedly escaped and was chased by the armed men. Cariaga said that after questioning the passengers of the pickup truck, the armed men released the five remaining soldiers. “Their firearms were also confiscated,” he said. “Major Torres is still missing and we are on search operation now,” Colonel Pedro Dulos, deputy commander of the 102nd Infantry Brigade, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by text message. A military report said the armed men were members of the New People’s Army operating under Aurora Cayon alias Commander Bambam.

Zamboanga Sibugay eyes ban on open-pit mining

by Tony Pe.

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 1, 2011) – The southern Philippine province of Zamboanga Sibugay is likely to declare a ban on open-pit mining following the move of neighboring Zamboanga del Norte.

Governor Rommel Jalosjos said they will not allow any open-pit mining in the province citing its destructive effect on the environment. “No. I am not for open-pit mining. Over my dead body,” he said when asked by reporters during a news conference if he would allow open-pit mining in Zamboanga Sibugay.

Jalosjos, who had worked at a mining firm in Australia, said: “I’ve seen what they have done.”

South Cotabato has first declared a ban on open-pit mining as part of its environment code and also put at risk billions of dollars of investments in the province, but saved the environment from further destructions.

Zamboanga del Norte followed after provincial lawmakers passed a resolution recently banning open-pit mining in the province. But mining firms have challenged the provincial ordinance in courts, citing that the ban is not in accordance with the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

Manila said the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and its Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations is considered in the industry today as one of the most socially and environmentally-sensitive legislations in its class.

It has specific provisions that take into consideration the following - Local government empowerment; Respect and concern for the indigenous cultural communities; Equitable sharing of benefits of natural wealth; Economic demands of present generation while providing the necessary foundation for future generations; Worldwide trend towards globalization; and Protection for and wise management of the environment.

Mining executives said they follow responsible and sustainable mining and provided health care and other benefits to the host community aside from tax it pay the local and national government.

But mining firms – gold, silver, copper among other minerals and deposits - in Mindanao also attracted sustained attacks from communist New People’s Army and Muslim rebels who are opposed to the destructive activities in the volatile, but mineral-rich region.

Ethnic tribesmen and church leaders, including environmentalists, are also destructive mining activities in Mindanao.

“We are opposed to destructive mining, especially in our ancestral domain,” said Timuay Noval Lambo, chieftain of the Gukom sog Pito ko Dolungan, the highest Subanon authority in Western Mindanao.

Lambo said they wanted to develop their community, but gets no support either from the national or provincial government where mining taxes go. He also questioned the provincial ban on open-pit mining in Zamboanga del Norte, saying, they were not consulted about this.

“We should have consulted first about this provincial ordinance because we are the ones affected by these mining activities in our own ancestral domain. We want our community developed, but we get no support from the national and provincial governments,” he said.

It was not immediately known whether Zamboanga del Sur would also pass a resolution banning open-pit mining in the province. Small scale gold mining activities are also rampant in Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga del Norte. (Mindanao Examiner)

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