October 2011

ON DISTANT SHORE
By Val G. Abelgas

Kota Kinabalu, captial of Sabah

Amid the turmoil and conflict generated by the unending rebellion in Mindanao and the renewed claim over the disputed Spratly Islands, another territorial claim that has greater consequences for the country continues to be ignored by the Philippine government.

The Philippines’ dormant claim over Sabah (North Borneo) was rekindled recently by the reigning and 34th leader of the once great Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo, Sultan Esmail D. Kiram II, and Engineer Abraham J. Idjirani, the Sultanate’s executive director and national spokesperson, during a forum on Oct. 15 at the Pimentel Center for Good Governance of the University of Makati.

Former Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr., head of the Pimentel Center for Good Governance, furnished this writer a brief outline of the speeches of both Sultan Kiram and Engineer Idjirani.

The Sultan sought the support of the Filipino people in renewing the country’s claim to Sabah, the second largest state in the Malaysia federation. Sabah, located in the northern portion of the island of Borneo, is often referred to as “the land below the wind” because of its location south of the typhoon-prone region around the Philippines.

Just like Mindanao and the Spratlys, Sabah, which is about the size of Mindanao and with a population of about 2.5 million people, is believed to be rich in oil and other natural resources. One of the world’s biggest oil-producing countries, the tiny Sultanata of Brunei, is located in the same island of Borneo.

“Allow me to appeal and request your support in furtherance of the Sabah claim for the future of our nation and for the good of Filipino generations yet to come,” Sultan Kiram told the audience composed of academics, historians and politicians.

Engineer Idjirani, on the other hand, bewailed the lack of information and education of the Filipino people on the history of the Sultanate of Sulu and its claim over Sabah. He hopes that with the proper orientation of the Filipino people on the historical facts about the dispute over Sabah, the claim could be pressed again before international courts and agencies.

The last time Sabah broke into the consciousness of the Filipino people was during the time of President Ferdinand Marcos in 1972 when a top-secret military operation involving a planned armed intrusion in Sabah was exposed in the media. The military apparently had been training a group of Muslim Filipinos in Corregidor, but when the recruits learned of their mission, they mutinied and were eliminated except for one who escaped by swimming on the bay.

The incident was described by the Philippine press as the infamous “Jabidah Massacre,” named after the planned military operation in Sabah. After that incident, the Philippine claim to Sabah was shelved once more, never to be revived again.

The claim by the Sultanate of Sulu over Sabah is based on historical facts and backed by legal documents that are available in the archives of Spain, Great Britain, Holland, Germany and the United States, as shown by a thorough study conducted by the Philippine Senate and House of Representatives from 1950 to 1963.

It all started when at the height of the Suluk-Spanish War between 1675 and 1704, the Sultan of Brunei negotiated with his cousin, the Sultan of Sulu, to send military aid to his kingdom to quell the rebellion mounted by the Brueni king’s half-brother. In gratitude, the Sultan of Brunei gave North Borneo, which is now called Sabah, to the Sultan of Sulu and vested the latter with sovereign rights.

Two hundred years later, the ceded territory of North Borneo was leased from Sultan Jamalul Ahlam by the British East India Company, which was later renamed British North Borneo Company, through a lease contract signed on January 22, 1878 by the Sultan and Gustavo von Overbeck, an Austrian national representing the British firm.

The annual lease payment was a meager amount of 5,300 Mexican gold in exchange for the company’s rights to exploit and develop the territory’s natural resources. After signing the contract, Overbeck sold his rights to Alfred Dent, a British subject, who then became the sole owner of the leasehold rights.

A provision of that lease contract read: “The above-mentioned territories are from today truly leased to Mr. Gustavus Baron Von Overbeck and Alfred Dent, Esquire, as already said, together with their heirs, their associates [Company] and to their successors and assigns for as long as they choose or desire to use them, but the rights and powers hereby leased shall not be transferred to another nation, or a company of other nationality, without the consent of their Majesty’s Government” (italics, supplied).

In 1888, the British government signed a Protectorate Agreement with the British North Borneo Company declaring that the British Crown had the power to exercise external sovereignty over North Borneo (Sabah). Thus, the British Government recognized unilaterally – without the consent of the Sultan of Sulu – the leased-territory of North Borneo as an “independent State”.

On July 9, 1963, Great Britain and the Federation of Malaya signed the Acts Relating to Malaysia in London that recognized the establishment of the Federation of Malaysia that included the leased-territory of North Borneo as the New State of Sabah.

Aside from the 1878 lease agreement with Overbeck and the British North Borneo Company, the Sultanate’s claim is based on the following historical facts and legal documents:

• Joint-Statement signed on August 5, 1963 by Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines under paragraph 12 of the 1963 Manila Accord that reads: “The Three Heads of States of the afore-named countries take cognizance of the position of the Philippine Claim to Sabah after the establishment of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, that is, the inclusion of Sabah in the Federation of Malaysia does not prejudice either the Claim or any rights thereunder until finally resolved by the United Nations, not precluding the International Court of Justice”.

• The 1881 Royal Charter of Incorporation that precluded the company of Dent from acquiring sovereignty over Sabah for the simple reason that the authority granted to Overbeck was merely a delegation of administering authority made by the Sultan of Sulu, in whom sovereignty still remained vested.

• The British Parliament reply to the protests lodged by Spain and Holland that reiterated the provision stated categorically in the Royal Charter that the authority given to Overbeck was merely to administer North Borneo but the Sultan of Sulu retained sovereignty.

• The 1898 Kiram-Bates Agreement that underscored the US recognition that North Borneo [Sabah] was merely under lease with the British North Borneo Chartered Company.

• The Kiram-Carpenter Agreement in 1915 where the US Government reiterated the recognition articulated by the 1899 Kiram-Bates Agreement regarding the status of North Borneo [Sabah] BEING LEASED ONLY TO OVERBECK, THEN, LATER TO BECK; assured full protection to the Sultan of Sulu should the question of Sabah in the future arise between him and any foreign authority; and, agreed to place the Sultanate of Sulu under an American Protectorate.

• The Sessions Court of North Borneo ruling in 1939 where the court resolved a suit filed by the Sultan of Sulu in favor of the heirs, naming then Datu Punjungan Kiram as Administrator of the leased-territory of North Borneo [Sabah]. That was the first court case won by the Sultanate of Sulu.

• A resolution passed by the United Nations in 1950 rebuffing British claims over the territory by mandating all colonizing countries that the three modes of acquiring territories by means of discovery, conquest and occupation were no longer recognized as valid. Following the UN resolution, the British Government restored and returned the title of sovereign and proprietary ownership of the Sultan of Sulu over the Turtle Island and all small Islands comprised therein to Sultan Esmail Kiram 1 and the other Nine Principal and Rightful Heirs under the leadership of the Court-appointed Administrator, then Crown Prince Punjungan Kiram.

The late Senator Arturo M. Tolentino, who backed the Sultanate’s claim throughout his political career, listed three historical facts that supported the claim:

• First fact – that the British North Borneo company merely based its rights upon the rights of Overbeck and Dent — rights which were not those of a sovereign but those of a LESSEE;

• Second fact – that the United Kingdom, in turn, based its alleged rights of sovereignty over the territory on the rights of the British North Borneo Company — rights which were not those of a sovereign but those of a LESSEE; and,

• Third fact – that Malaysia’s claim to sovereignty over North Borneo [Sabah] is based on the rights of the United Kingdom — rights which were not those of a sovereign but those of a LESSEE.

A major dispute in the original1878 contract was the interpretation of the word “Padjak” in the document. Language experts on Bahasa Malay agree that the term “Padjak” a Tausug dialect and Malaysian language used as word of conveyance of the 1878 contract, written in Arabic character, meant “lease”. Dent, one of the lessors, hired two British nationals to interpret the word “padjak” and they said it meant “cession in perpetuity.”

Despite the interpretation by Yale University Professor Harold Conklin and other language experts that it meant “lease,” Great Britain and Malaysia insisted on the two British nationals’ translation.

However, if it was not a lease, why does Malaysia continue to pay $5,300 Malaysian ringgit every year to the heirs of the Sultan?

In 1962, the Philippine government, under then President Diosdado Macapagal, filed a formal claim on Sabah before the United Nations on behalf of the Sultan of Sulu based on a special power of attorney granted by the Sultan.

It contained a provision that said the special power of attorney shall become ipso facto null and void if the Philippines fails to exhaust all peaceful means to assert the claim. The Sultan can void the power of attorney anytime because obviously the Philippines has all but forgotten about the claim.

The Philippines stands to gain more and has more solid evidence to pursue its claim over Sabah than it has over Spratlys, and yet administrations after administrations have chosen to ignore the Sultan of Sulu’s plea to assert the claim. It would seem the country’s leaders prefer the status quo than ignite tensions with Malaysia, which is mediating the peace talks between the Philippine government and the Muslim rebels.

Why gear up for war for a few shoals and islets in the middle of the ocean, and not lift a finger for an oil-rich land as big as Mindanao that is legally and historically a part of the once-great Sultanate of Sulu?

(valabelgas@aol.com)

BY REY O. ARCILLA
MALAYA

‘Since when has a mere foreign minister become the counterpart of a head of state?’

OOPS… her slip is showing.

What business is it of the United States to be raising the MILF issue before the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)?

White House officials said that the ongoing strife in parts of Mindanao will be among the primary issues that the US Government will take up with the OIC.

The US special envoy to the OIC, Rashad Hassan, did not specify what he was going to discuss with the organization. Instead, he said that “it would not be anything close to political intervention, to cross borders of national policies with other countries.”

This guy insults our intelligence. He takes us for fools!

Obviously, what the US plans to do is to make the Islamic countries raise their voices against President Noynoy Aquino’s “all-out justice” stance for 27 of our soldiers recently killed in ambuscades by the MILF rebels.

That would be insulting the intelligence of the Islamic countries and taking them for fools!

It also does not help the US plan by using as an excuse their professed concern for many Filipino youth for undergoing “the hardship of displacement and war trauma” and placing them into “a more secure space for human development.”

How touching! Nonetheless, one would wish they had thought of that before they supported and kept supporting Israel against the Palestinian cause for national liberation; before they decided to invade Iraq; before they invaded Vietnam, before they massacred innocent Filipino civilians (“Kill all males over 12”, remember?) when they decided to colonize this country, etc., ad nauseam.

***

It is obvious that the US has embarked on a multi-pronged approach to keep us from derailing their ultimate objective in Mindanao, i.e., to have some kind of a Moro political entity in Mindanao with which they can directly deal, instead of Manila.

Aside from the OIC and other moves, there is also the rather sudden decision of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to come to Manila two weeks from now for a “bilateral meeting with President Aquino”, according to Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario.

Good heavens! Pray tell, why with Aquino? Since when has a mere foreign minister become the counterpart of a head of state? If at all, the bilateral discussion should be between Clinton and Del Rosario. A courtesy call by Clinton on Noynoy may be arranged, but not to have direct talks with him. As I said, that should be done with her counterpart, Del Rosario, on an ad referendum basis, with Del Rosario reporting to Noynoy afterwards.

Kaya tayo hindi iginagalang ng mga iyan! Ano ba?! Napakababa naman ng tingin natin sa ating sarili. Kailan pa tayo matututo?!

Of course, we cannot possibly expect Del Rosario to give proper advice to Noynoy on such matters, being the Amboy that he is. In fact, Del Rosario earlier committed the very same mistake by directly talking with a mere US Assistant Secretary of State, Kurt Campbell, who is three or four ranks below him. Campbell has a DFA counterpart with whom he should have been talking directly, not Del Rosario.

In fairness to Noynoy and Del Rosario, however, they are not the first ones to violate such a basic principle of negotiations, not to mention protocol. All their predecessors have committed the same mistake.

We have to change this attitude. It’s long overdue! As I said, “kaya tayo hindi iginagalang ng mga banyaga sa sarili nating bayan ay dahil sa ugali nating ‘yan.”

For the record, when I was an assistant secretary in the DFA, I never received anyone on official business below the rank of ambassador or charge’ d’affaires. Anyone lower ranking had to deal with the appropriate officials in my office.

***

Del Rosario is now in New York ostensibly campaigning for Senator Miriam Santiago who is vying for a seat as judge in the International Criminal Court (ICC). How? By hosting a costly reception for the delegates attending the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute. He was supposed to be there for only two full days. How much campaigning could he possibly have done in that time?

As I said in an earlier piece, it would be a cinch Santiago will win if she had the endorsement of the Asian Group in the United Nations. Does she? In any case, let’s hope she wins. It would be an honor not only to herself, but also to the country. If she wins though, one could only pray she does not resort to the same sort of antics she does in the Senate sometimes.

***

Del Rosario’s decision to set up consular offices in shopping malls throughout the country is truly commendable. Not only will they make it a lot more convenient for the public to apply for passports and avail of other consular services, but they will also save the government a considerable amount of money.

Now, if only Del Rosario would act expeditiously on the allegedly irregular acquisition during his predecessor’s watch of the utterly inadequate consular building on Macapagal Boulevard…

He should issue forthwith appropriate instructions to his favorite future ex-undersecretary for administration, Rafael Seguis, to start the probe.

The ball is in your court, Mr. Secretary. You promised, remember?

***

Incidentally, Del Rosario may wish to look into the scuttlebutt now going the rounds that a high DFA official who has shown keen interest in the staffing of some of our posts in the Middle East has a close relative in the recruitment business. Hmm… Interesting.

***

Reminders (for Noynoy’s action):

1) Filing of charges against officials of the National Food Administration (NFA) during Arroyo’s regime. Noynoy himself said on several occasions that there is documentary evidence to prove the venalities in the past in that agency; 2) facilitating the investigation of rampant corruption in the military and police establishments; 3) expeditious action by the AFP on the case of Jonas Burgos; and 4) investigation of reported anomalies in the GSIS during the watch of Winston Garcia.

His bosses are wondering why up to now, Noynoy has not taken any action on the reported past anomalies in the NFA. What sort of instructions has he given his handpicked head of the agency who has not yet filed any charges against his predecessor/s? Strange.

And why the deafening silence on the part of the present GSIS officials on the reported anomalies during Garcia’s time? Apparently, they too have been given instructions contrary to what Noynoy’s bosses expect.

What gives, Mr. President? It’s about time you leveled with us.

***

Today is the 187th day of the fifth year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance.

The Supreme Court has just ordered the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to use “all available measures” to locate a missing witness in Jonas’ abduction, a certain Virgilio Eustaquio.

The high tribunal wants Eustaquio to execute an affidavit substantiating his allegation that one of Jonas’ abductors, appearing in a police artist’s sketch, was indeed one of the abductors together with four others identified earlier.

The CHR was also ordered “to submit within 30 days a report, with its recommendations, of its ongoing investigation of Burgos’ abduction, and the affidavit of… Eustaquio, if any, copy furnished the petitioner, the Court of Appeals (CA), the incumbent chiefs of the AFP, the PNP and the PNP-CIDG, and all the present respondents before the CA.”

***

Boxing icon Manny Pacquiao is reportedly taking his upcoming fight with Juan Marquez of Mexico personally. He shouldn’t. It may be his undoing.

It is obvious Marquez is trying to get Manny’s goat and he appears to be succeeding. An angry fighter is prone to be careless.

***

From an internet friend:

Three drunks took a taxi. The cabbie, seeing that they were wasted, decided to pull a fast one. So he switched the engine on, then quickly switched it off and announced “We’re here!”

The first guy handed him the fare, and the second one said “Thanks.” But the third guy angrily smacked him on the head.

“What was that for?” cried the cabbie, afraid that he’d been caught.

“That,” said the drunk, “is for driving too fast!”

***

Email: roacrosshairs@yahoo.com

By Wendell Vigilia
Malaya

SEN. Panfilo Lacson yesterday said Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo should be allowed to seek medical treatment abroad but she should also do her part to make sure that proceedings in cases filed against her are not delayed by her absence.

“My unsolicited advice to (Justice) Secretary (Leila) de Lima is to do a King Solomon: Allow ex-President Arroyo to leave for treatment abroad but only after she has submitted her counter-affidavit on the electoral sabotage and plunder case that she is being accused of, so as not to derail the preliminary investigations being conducted by the DOJ prosecutors,” he said.

“This way, her absence cannot delay the filing of information in court and the subsequent issuance of warrants of arrest against her by the court in case probable cause is established,” he added.

Arroyo had obtained permission from the House of Representatives to travel to Singapore, Spain, Germany, Italy and the United States from October 22 to December 5.

She plans to seek treatment for “hypoparathyroidism,” a condition caused by lack of calcium production in the body, which has aggravated her neck and spine problems.

Arroyo has written De Lima thrice to ask permission for her travel abroad but the government has yet to decide.

At the House, Cavite Rep. Joseph Emil Abaya and Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said foreign medical specialists should be asked to come to the Philippines to treat Arroyo because Arroyo remains a flight risk.

Abaya, chair of the House committee on appropriations, said President Aquino should just order the foreign affairs department to facilitate visa processing and other documents for the foreign physicians.

“We respect her right to seek medical treatment abroad but the state should not renege on its responsibility to seek justice,” he said.

Colmenares said bringing the foreign specialists to the country would be a win-win solution.

He clarified Arroyo should be the one to “shoulder the expenses of bringing in medical experts to the country.”

Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, a deputy minority leader, said Arroyo has already made it clear that she has no intention to escape.

“She made a vow to return and that’s enough to allow her request to seek medical treatment abroad,” Suarez said.

Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus said she is wondering why Arroyo has to leave the country when her physicians at St. Luke’s Medical Center Global City earlier said she was getting better and has even had “remarkable improvements in her neurologic status.” – Wendell Vigilia

http://www.malaya.com.ph/oct31/news4.html

By Danessa O. Rivera and Charlie V. Manalo
The Daily Tribune

Malacañang and its Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPPAP) chief , Teresita Deles, may just be giving away P31 million to a non-existent rebel group that was once tagged by government as the Alex Boncayao Brigade (ABB), no matter what new name Deles has given the claimed beneficiaries of the P31 million funding program.

Reliable sources said that the ABB, then known as the breakaway urban assassination squad of the Communist Party of the Philipines (CPP) has not been in existence for years, with even the Philippine military and the Philippine National Police then claiming that the ABB had been eliminated for sometime now.

It was earlier reported that the Aquino administration, through the office of Deles, would be funding the ABB with a grant of P31 million.

But Deles, in a radio interview yesterday claimed that the Aquino government is merely implementing the grant given by the Estrada government and that the P31 million is to be spent on livelihood projects in communities occupied by the ABB.

Interviewed by the Tribune, former President Estrada said that the fact that this was never implemented means that there was that violation of whatever agreement was made then.

“The intent of the Aquino government is to end the armed rebellion. They (government) are not negotiating a political settlement but an end to armed rebellion. They (armed groups) will not longer be armed groups or change their organizations. Like the CPLA (Cordillera People’s Liberation Army, they will register with the Securities and Exchange Commission and will no longer become armies,” Deles was quoted as saying.

Deles stressed the importance of profiling and the registration of firearms, claiming that the ABB members are sometimes recruited to become members of the private armies of politicians’ during elections.

She also noted that the government wants to do away with armed rebellions in the country, claiming that conditions have changed in some areas.

The proposal of government funding while called a livelihood program, will however, still go to areas controlled supposedly by the ABB, which translates to the beneficiaries being the ABB—if such a group is still in existence.

Deles was also quoted as saying in the interview that ABB members will also be required to register their firearms but they will not be asked to surrender them, yet she also claimed that no permits to carry firearms outside residence will be given to the armed group.

Malacañang yesterday quickly denied the government gave a P31-million grant to the ABB, even when Deles virtually confirmed that the grant will be going to residents of areas which are controlled by the ABB.

Deputy Presidential Spokesman Abigail Valte said the P31-million which the government would be shelling out is part of the government’s Pamana project and is intended for the development of communities in the strife-torn areas in the country.

“There is no grant to the ABB. Pamana is the program for the development of communities and alternative livelihood. It will not be government turnint over the funds to any armed group,” Valte told reporters during a phone patch interview in Malacañang on Monday.

The Palace official issued this clarification amid reports quoting Deles as saying that the government has allotted such funds to support livelihood projects for residents in the communities occupied by the ABB group.

Upon confirming it with Secretary Deles, Valte explained that the P31-million fund was not given directly to the ABB group but is being handled by the government to develop projects for the said communities in partnership with the local government units and national agencies.

“We are identifying the communities that need development. So our main partner is the national government and this would be the concerned LGUs (Local Government Units) and the national agencies that can implement the program. So there is no grant to the ABB,” Valte said.

Valte emphasized that the funds allocated for Pamana projects are “really for the development of communities” and these are not given to a particular entity. The funding will be given to government entities, so it will be the government that will be developing the communities and provide them the alternative livelihood,” she added.

Pamana is the government’s peace and development program and framework which seeks to reduce poverty, improve governance and empower communities through community-driven projects that address the people’s needs and, at the same time, promote peace.

The program is being led by the OPPAP, along with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Interior and Local Government, and Department of Agrarian Reform as its partners.

Deles stressed that “If they (ABB ) don’t agree to this closure process, then the negotiations will no longer continue and they will be treated as lawless elements, saying it will be the group’s last chance.

Earlier Deles, the government chief negotiator Marvic Leonen, along with their principal, President Aquino, were mired in controversy over the P5 million “gift” they gave the Moro Islamic Liberation Front ostensibly for kickstarting the MILF foundation that claims to focus on BangsaMoro leaders, despite the continuing killing of soldiers,

Zambales Rep. Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay also yesterday cautioned the government against demoralization among the ranks of the police following its decision to allot P31 million for the housing and livelihood of families of surrendered members of the ABB, the group responsible for the killing of roughly 200 policemen in the 90’s.

“The timing of the government’s decision is very bad since the issue in Mindanao with the MILF is still very fresh,” Magsaysay said in a statement. “Military officers as well as policemen were part of the casualty in the clashes there involving another group that the government is working to achieve peace with.

“The families of the casualties also need help so what is the government doing for them?”

Aside from this, policemen have long been complaining of a shortage in benefits compared to their counterparts in other countries that the government has yet to address.

“This decision sends a wrong message to the police and military, especially at this time because it would seem that the leadership is prioritizing the welfare of those who are opposing or have opposed the government rather than those who are protecting it. It would seem that the government’s concern is more for those who have caused losses to the state rather than those who are risking their lives for the safety of our people,” Magsaysay said.

However, since the government has already decided, Magsaysay said that if the state wants to achieve closure, as it claimed is the reason for this decision, it should at least ensure that the group has also kept its end of the bargain for the time the agreement was at a standstill.

“Before they (government) give the money, they should make sure that the beneficiaries have not committed any lawless acts in the years since their commitment with the government and that those who are still active with their criminal activities will not be given a share of this fund,” she said.

“It is sad because the government is very loose with its purse strings when it comes to these groups but when it comes to projects that will benefit the people as a whole, they always cite austerity. And mostly, this backfires because the money they give are used to purchase arms that are used against government forces.”

“The government wants to achieve peace, and they want to achieve closure. That is commendable in itself but like it said, justice must be served for all, and rewarding those who have not kept their part is just an insult to families of the policemen who lost their lives to this group,” the solon said.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

RELATED STORY:

Aquino allots P31m for Red splinter group

by Christine F. Herrera

Peace adviser Teresita Deles defends funding for the Alex Boncayao Brigade, citing a 10-year-old deal signed with the Estrada administration

THE Aquino administration plans to give P31 million to a breakaway communist group that was responsible for killing over 200 people, mostly policemen, in the 1990s, a lawmaker and the presidential peace adviser confirmed Sunday.

ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said the funds were earmarked for the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa Pilipinas-Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade, a group that split from the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.

But Tinio described the group, which was feared for its high-profile assassinations during its heyday in the 1980s, as “an insignificant political and revolutionary group trying to push for a final peace agreement.”

He questioned the government’s decision to provide them with funds.

Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles, already under fire for giving Muslim rebels P5 million for a leadership institute, confirmed that the P31 million would come from the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan or Pamana, a P329-million fund administered by her office.

“This is not a political settlement. This is part of the closure process, including the final disposition of forces and arms with development and livelihood from Pamana,” Deles told the Manila Standard.

“We don’t want to pass on another unfinished business to the next administration.”

The P31 million was allocated for community livelihood projects and housing for armed members of the RPMP-RPA-ABB in three peace and development communities, Deles said.

She said the RPA-ABB remained armed and in fact was at war with the New People’s Army.

The ABB, popularly known as “Sparrow Units,” the armed urban guerrillas and partisan group of the Communist Party before it broke away, was behind the assassination of US Army Col. James Nicholas Rowe, chief of the Joint US-Military Assistance Group, on April 21, 1989.

The Manila-based ABB led by Nilo dela Cruz merged with Arturo Tabara’s Negros-Panay-based RPMP-RPA after they split from the Jose Maria Sison-led CPP in 1998.

The peace accord was signed by Tabara and Dela Cruz with the government in the presence of then President Joseph Estrada on Dec. 6, 2000, in Negros Occidental. Businessman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. and then Agriculture Secretary and now Senator Edgardo Angara were present.

Tabara was believed to have been assassinated by the NPA.

Tinio said the peace agreement should not have been honored by the Aquino administration.

“That peace accord was signed by Erap [Estrada] in December 2000, literally the final desperate days of his presidency,” Tinio said. “Estrada was ousted in January 2001, a month after the accord was signed.”

But Deles said despite the 10-year gap, the government was determined to complete the peace agreement.

The accord consists of the following components: 1) declaration of cessation of hostilities, 2) release of political prisoners and their assistance through the reintegration fund, 3) implementation of development projects, and 4) policy reforms.

Deles said the Aquino administration’s peace agenda called for negotiating the settlement of all armed conflicts and addressing the causes of conflicts.

http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideNews.htm?f=2011/october/31/news1.isx&d=2011/october/31

SPY BITS
By Babe Romualdez
The Philippine Star

It looks like those wanting to be in the inner circle of P-Noy have decided the best way is to join his exclusive smokers’ club. A number of Cabinet officials can’t resist from lighting up with the President and be part of the “smokers circle.” During Cabinet meetings, P-Noy usually takes “cigarette breaks” with Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa as his smoking buddy, but they now have a new recruit in the person of Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang who reportedly has taken up the habit just to be part of the inner circle.

Those in the know say the best time to privately interact with the President is during these “light sessions” – and it seems Ricky C is taking every opportunity to have the ear of President Noy by taking up smoking – something that other Cabinet members are beginning to think about doing as well. One baby-faced agency head however is holding out so far – prompting some insiders to bet how long it would take before he finally gives in.

Secret (service) tales

A viral email has been circulating supposedly about US Secret Service agents’ behind-the-scenes stories on American presidents, their family and Cabinet purportedly from a book titled “Impressions & Observations.” The email account paints very unflattering pictures about John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, described as oversexed and “philanderers of the highest order.” Even iconic FLs were not spared, like Jacqueline Kennedy who reportedly ordered kitchen staff to save leftover wine and have them mixed with fresh ones to be served on the next White House occasion.

A lot of the vitriol seems directed against Democrats like Jimmy Carter who was described as a complete phony, portraying a hardworking public persona by carrying an empty luggage for photo ops. Carter was a closet drinker who was “very irresponsible with the football nuclear codes” and disdained the Secret Service – same as the Clintons and the Obamas who allegedly look down on the men. In contrast, the Reagans were described as warm and caring while the Bushes are fondly remembered for their kindness, bringing warm clothes to freezing agents detailed outside.

A quick check however would reveal there is no such book quoted by the email. There is a bestselling “tell all” though, with the lengthy title “In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents…” written by former Washington Post reporter Ronald Kessler, who said many of the email accounts are not accurate. He had exclusive interviews from the elite group of men whose job includes having to take a bullet for the US president, describing the perils that go with the work – like the gun battle with Harry Truman’s would-be assassins.

There are similarities though in the email and the agents’ gossip/tales as recounted in the book. Kessler says Reagan sent checks worth thousands of dollars to strangers; the Carters are described as big liars with Jimmy pretending to be hardworking, going to the Oval Office at 5 a.m. – only to fall asleep immediately once the media has taken note of the fact. Gerald Ford was depicted as a cheapskate who gave one-dollar tips to caddies and would cadge small change from agents to pay for things like newspapers.

Just like in the Philippines, even highly placed relatives were not above flexing their muscles to have people removed – like Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter Mary who had her detail supervisor sacked for refusing to escort her friends to a restaurant. No doubt a similar “tell all” book on Philippine presidents is being planned by anonymous presidential security officers, a Spy Bits source said.

Carping about CARPER

Former Namfrel chairman and agrarian reform advocate Christian Monsod sent us a copy of the CBCP-NASSA manifesto about the plight of farmers who were disillusioned by P-Noy’s failure to tackle agrarian reform during his keynote address at the National Anti-Poverty Commission’s sectoral assembly. Farmers’ groups that supported P-Noy during the 2010 elections are growing impatient over the slow implementation of agrarian reform, compounded by talks about a looming termination of the CARPER law. Agrarian reform should not end by 2014 and government should speed up action on cases that have been pending for over four decades, farmers bewailed, lashing out against the alleged poor performance of the Department of Agrarian Reform in terms of land acquisition and distribution.

Going by a farmer-leader’s ominous warning that they are ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of agrarian reform, government should not turn a deaf ear to their plight.

Spy tidbit

–– P-Noy’s “no wang-wang” policy may be strictly followed by many government officials, but it seems their drivers or relatives are still bent on lording it over on the streets of Manila, like the driver of this white Ford Expedition with plate number WPD-682 who was the subject of complaint by some Spy Bits readers. He probably thought the huge House of Representatives sticker at the back of his car gave him the right to cut through the path of other vehicles on their way to Trinoma mall along Mindanao Avenue last Sunday, the readers complained, who admitted they had to give way for fear that the Expedition occupants were carrying firearms like the erstwhile bodyguard and driver of political adviser Ronald Llamas.

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Email: spybits08@yahoo.com

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=743340&publicationSubCategoryId=66

Fr Fausto PIME was killed on Oct 17 by a man who shot him with 10 bullets. On Oct 25 his remains were laid to rest beside the grave of Fr Favali, PIME, also murdered. 10,000 mourners joined the procession in a four-km route. Present were his brother, relatives and in-laws, Fr General of PIME, Italian Ambassador, 80 priests, three bishops and government officials.

Fr Fausto Tentorio, PIME

Greater love has no one than this,

that he lay down his life for his friends

Father Fausto disliked ceremonies; especially ceremonies that drew attention to himself. He was quite content to labor in relative obscurity as a priest for thirty years in North Cotabato, first in Columbio, and then in Arakan. But the attention Father Fausto managed to escape from in life, he must now endure in death.

In death, he is now called an environmentalist-priest, a human rights defender, the anti-mining activist, the protector of cultural minorities.

But there is a tendency, even by well-meaning souls, to enlarge the life of one who has met a high-profile death.

We do not have to boost to mythical proportions Fr. Fausto’s life in order to make sense of his tragic death. He should be remembered simply as a good and faithful priest, who loved his people, and sought to serve them as best as he could, even in the face of danger to his own life.

How did Fr. Fausto want to be remembered?

In his last will and testament, Fr. Fausto wished that his tombstone to contain the following: “You were told, O Man, what is good and what God requires of you: to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah)

That is what Fr. Fausto did. He showed mercy, especially to the least of God’s children among his parishioners, the lumad. He sought justice for them, when they were dispossessed of their land, when they were harassed by men with arms, when their own government seemed to abandon them. But doing that—even in a quiet and humble manner —can earn you enemies, enemies that go after even the kindest of men, like Jesus of Nazareth, whom Fr. Fausto followed all the way to Arakan.

And Fr. Fausto knew that.

Twenty-six years ago he saw what happened to Fr. Tulio Favali, PIME, who was gunned down by paramilitary assassins. He could have changed course then, packed up his bag, and head for a safer and kinder place on the missionary map. But he did not. He had fallen in love with his people.

In his last will and testament, he wrote this, in Bisayan, to his people: “Your dream is My dream, Your struggle is my struggle. Therefore,You and I are one; companions in constructing the Kingdom of God.”

When his assailants felled him with bullets, Fr. Fausto was exactly where he chose to be—with his people. When he met death, Fr. Fausto was doing exactly what he had been praying for strength to continue doing: ministering to the people he now called his own. He would not have it any other way.

So it can be plainly said without a doubt, that Fr. Fausto’s death is nothing less than a fulfillment of what St. John says in the gospel: “Greater love than this no man has than he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).” Stripped of all editorializing, social commentary, and propaganda literature, Fr. Fausto’s death is simply an emulation, a following and imitation of Jesus’ own death on the cross.

And we gather here in this liturgy because we do not want to lose the essential meaning of Fr. Fausto’s death. More accurately, we are here to be caught up and enlivened by his death, now united with, and suffused by, the saving power of Jesus’ own crucifixion and death. And because Fr. Fausto faithfully began the pattern of the paschal mystery, some form of the resurrection for us will not be far behind. What will it be? We do not know.

But this we know. After Fr. Favali was killed 26 years ago, something like a resurrection followed and is now reflected in the number of priests of the Diocese. Fully one half of their number comes from the Tulunan-Mlang area where Fr. Favali met his martyrdom. So, even as we shed tears today for the loss of a well-loved priest in Fr. Fausto, we are not without hope for the kind of resurrection heaven has in store to surprise us.

Today, then, as we bring Fr. Fausto to his final resting place, we should say “thank you,” first, to his family for allowing him to come and stay with us, for giving him to us. His brother and his sister-in-law and nephews are here with us, all the way from Italy.

Second, we should thank the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions and all Fr. Fausto’s confreres. Their General Superior from Rome, the Very Reverend Father Gian Battista Zanchi, PIME, and local superior, Reverend Father Gianni Re, PIME, are here with us.

It is said that the Coliseum of Rome, though outside Vatican City, is still considered as belonging to the Catholic Church for the earth on which it stands has been soaked by the blood of countless Christian martyrs who died there in the olden days. In a similar fashion, the local church of the Diocese of Kidapawan is like that. Long after the PIME Institute shall have deemed the Diocese no longer a mission area for its members to be sent to, we shall forever remain yours, for we are marked by the blood of Favali and Fausto, two of the finest missionaries the Institute has ever produced.

Our last word of thanks goes to Fr. Fausto who, though he lies there in silence, must be fidgeting in spirit, unable to wait for all this to end. So, I shall be brief.

“Fr. Fausto, rest in peace. Your labors have ended. With your prayers, we will take up and continue your work.”

+ Romulo de la Cruz, D.D.

Kidapawan City, Cotabato, Philippines

October 24, 2011, Feast of Anthony Mary Claret

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR
By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star

Two of our family’s jewels had shone as bright as the stars recently. Our dear departed kin must have been overjoyed by the recent triumphs of our two family jewels.

On the home front, our nephew Jose “Hossie” E. Claro was honored last October 19 with the Catholic Mass Media Award (CMMA) for Best Opinion Column. Hossie’s mother, my sister Dorothy (Bayer Corporate Communications Regional Head, based in Singapore), told her friends on Facebook that Hossie’s Uncle Billy was more ecstatic over his CMMA achievement compared to her and her husband, Tito. That, of course, is understandable as it was your Chair Wrecker who saw the potential writer in Hossie and encouraged him to write for the Philippine STAR.

It was in January 24, 2004 when I spotted the potential of Hossie. It was the day when his elder brother Jan Lester got married to Mylene Santos and Hossie offered the toast to the newlyweds during the dinner at the Peninsula Hotel Rigodon Ballroom. Hossie being the last to trumpet his achievements, none of us in the family, as well as our closest friends, knew that he had developed the talent for writing and public speaking.

Hossie took his grade school and high school education (1989-2000) at St. Benedict College in Alabang and graduated in 2004 with an AB-Psychology degree at the Ateneo de Manila University. Like many others who studied under the Jesuits, Hossie seriously considered an Ignatian vocation. His is the heart of a missionary, preferring to teach to the underprivileged instead of aspire for the lucrative corporate job. With the talent he has, he could have been the head of an HR Department of a multinational firm but he opted to work instead in ERDA (Educational Research and Development Assistance) Technical and Vocational Secondary School, the Jesuit outreach program for the poor.

Hossie is the Teacher-in-charge of the Communication Arts Area of ERDA, in charge of supervising English and Filipino teachers, designing curriculum and program, regulating lesson plans, assessment and offerings of program. He is also an Assistant for Academic Concerns at the ERDA Principal’s Office. He assists the principal with Academic Concerns of the school such as reforming the grading system, evaluating academic policies and programs, and so forth. Hossie taught Filipino at Xavier University from 2004 to 2008.

He started writing for our YOUNG STAR Section in 2009 upon the prodding of his overbearing Uncle Billy. In 2010, he was moved to the Health and Family Section and it was his “Much ajeje over nothing” column for this section that won for him the CMMA for Best Opinion Column.

To be among the four nominated finalists — three of the four were STAR writers — for Best Opinion Column was achievement enough, I thought. It was the first time Hossie entered the CMMA competition. He was still a newcomer and wrote only a twice a month column. Winning the CMMA on his very first try surprised the entire family. We never doubted that our Hossie was good but we didn’t realize that he was that good!

After the CMMA event, Hossie sent me this text message: “Thank you for believing in me Uncle Billy. I am nothing without you.” My wife Meyang didn’t know about the text message of Hossie and was surprised and worried when she noticed tears forming around my eyes. For a moment, she thought it was caused by the severe back pains from my on and off bouts with spinal stenosis.
The other jewel in the family whose recent achievement we’re celebrating is Richard “Richie” McCaw, Captain of the New Zealand All-Blacks Rugby team that won last October 23 the 2011 Rugby World Cup. It was a momentous year for Richie. He became the first All-Blacks player to log over 100 test matches (games) and the World Cup was the only missing trophy in Richie’s legendary career.

Considered by the sport’s global community as the best Rugby player in the world, Richie is to Rugby what David Beckham and Michael Jordan were to Soccer and Basketball, respectively. Hailed as the ‘Heart and Soul’ of the All-Blacks team, Richie is certain to make the Rugby Hall of Fame. Many sports writers had doubted if Richie could still lead the All-Blacks to World Cup glory owing to a foot injury. It’s precisely during the most trying moments, when men overcome severe pain and adversity, when heroes emerge.

Richie’s great, great grandfather — Robert Trotter — was the brother of our great grandmother, Annie Trotter Macgregor. When I visited Scotland as a returning son in 1985, one of my “pilgrimage” sites was the Trotter farm in Garguston, the Muir of Ord, where our ancestors lived until they decided to migrate to New Zealand. Perhaps arranged by fate, John McCaw, Richie’s uncle, was also in the farm as a returning son and that’s how we were able to reconnect with our New Zealand kinfolks.

Mey and I have since visited Richie’s grandparents in Wanaka in the mid-1990s. Hossie and Richie met in 2007 when Dorothy brought her family to Christchurch and Queenstown in the South Island for a vacation.

Hossie and Richie — two family jewels that shone in their respective fields. It’s a moment to be shared.

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Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: macesposo@yahoo.com and www.chairwrecker.com

CITIZEN Y
By Yoly Villanueva-Ong
The Philippine Star

Isn’t it incongruous that we commemorate the faithful departed the day after we honor the Saints which is preceded by Halloween, a pagan ritual to ward off roaming ghosts? All Souls Day follows All Saints Day which follows All Hallows Eve. To many, this is just another welcome break from the grind. But to the thoughtful, it’s another perplexing conundrum that distinguishes between man-made religion and God-given faith. “Did God make man or did man make God?” challenge the atheists.

In the Church calendar, there is a saint for each day. But November 1 is set aside for the Solemnity of All Saints, known and unknown. Like Veterans Day or National Heroes Day, this is one common celebration for many. While the more famous saints are honored on specific days and their life story is well-known, there are many anonymous or unsung saints, who may have been forgotten or never been given tribute.

On this Day, the living asks for the prayers and intercession of all the Saints for their dearly departed. This is known as the Communion of Saints, the belief that God’s people, on heaven, earth, and Purgatory are all connected and that His saints constantly intercede on our behalf. St. Cyril (AD 350) testifies that the saints are not divine, nor omnipresent nor omniscient. But our prayers are joined with the heavenly community due to our communion with the saints through Christ.

Then on the eve of this holy Feast is Halloween, believed to have originated from an ancient Celtic festival, Samhain, when people lighted bonfires and wore scary costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. This vigil practice was meant to scorn Evil. In the 8th century Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as All Saints’ Day and some of Samhain’s traditions were somehow integrated into the rites. Falling in the cusp of autumn and winter, straddling the line between plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a convoluted mishmash of festivity and old wives’ tales.

November 2 commemorates those who died with “God’s grace and friendship”. But Catholics believe that not all those who expired in God’s grace are immediately ready for the reality and goodness of God and heaven, the beatific vision. They must be purified of “lesser faults,” and the temporal effects of sin. The Catholic Church calls this purification of the elect, “Purgatory.”

The teaching rests on two essential beliefs: 1) that there will be a purification of believers prior to entering heaven; 2) that the prayers and masses of the faithful benefit those in this state. As to the extent, place, and exact nature of this cleansing, the Church has no official dogma. Saint Augustine and some others refer to fire as a way to explain the manner of purification. But many Catholics, including Pope Benedict XVI, maintain that Purgatory is best considered an existential state, rather than a temporal place.

Since it is outside the confines of created time and space, it is inaccurate to think of Purgatory as a location or duration. The doctrine may be confusing and difficult to understand. As a simpler explanation, some liken it to a place or state where one gets “cleaned up” before entering into the presence of Almighty God. What is important to keep in mind is that the prayers and Masses from the living-faithful and the Saints supposedly hasten the purification of the faithful-departed.

In the middle ages, All Hallows Eve was the signal that winter was near. As the days grew shorter and the nights got colder, gatherings around bonfires, spooky costumes and sweet treats became part of the norm. Other rituals related to Halloween developed. The poor begged for “soul cakes”. In exchange for these round sweets, they would pray for departed souls. This may have started the practice of Church-dispensed plenary or partial indulgence and the modern day “trick-or-treat”.

The Halloween tradition of wearing creepy masks and costumes was meant to deride Evil and confuse the malevolent spirits by looking like one of them. Some Christians also visited cemeteries, to venerate their dead relatives and friends. Picnics and the last flowers of the year became the offerings on the graves. All Hallows Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Days all mixed in a hodgepodge.

Today Halloween has evolved into a child-friendly, painstakingly-organized, community-based event focused on “trick or treat”. Kids wearing Lady Gaga and Wonder Woman outfits blend with the more typical ghoul fashion. Gated subdivisions mark the occasion with enthusiasm, decorating lavishly and opening their homes to trick-or-treaters, something not allowed for Christmas carollers in the Season for Giving.

The Filipino version of Undas, is equally perplexing. After lighting candles and laying wreaths on the tombs — booze, loud music and gambling take over. It probably doesn’t occur to the “bereaved” that the rowdy behavior might be unsettling to the souls who only want their prayers to achieve spiritual upliftment. The earthy pursuits of earthly visitors might delay their dearly departed from reaching heaven.

Not a few pose the query of whether religion and churches are manufactured by man. The triple cocktail of Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day seems to bolster the allegation. Humanly-concocted rites inspired by pagan tradition, evolved and contorted into even more dubious practices, sound like evidence that can make the case for agnostics and non-believers.

But on the other hand, the assertion that men, not God, created the terms of worship, that’s why they’re far from perfect, is also the strongest argument of the degree to which divinity exceeds humanity. It is no wonder then, that the attempts to embody God – in scripture, ceremony and prayer – are faulty, deficient and perpetually derisory. Man is simply too flawed and inadequate to comprehend and illustrate God’s glory. As was pointed out in Romans, 11:33-34, “How unsearchable are his Judgments and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord or who hath been his counsellor?”

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citizenyfeedback@gmail.com

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?publicationSubCategoryId=64&articleId=743447

By Efren Montano
Journal.com

IF ever you visit Malacañang, don’t ignore the creepy balete tree standing majestically in front of it. Discreetly, say “hi” even if there’s nobody around. Chances are, a ‘kapre’ is watching you. His name is Mr. Brown. Inside the Palace, the ghost of former Press Secretary Cerge Remonde could also be waiting.

According to Maestro Mystico, Malacañang staffers have also felt the presence of other ghosts inside the former office of Remonde. They have often heard footsteps which they believe belong to the former press secretary of ex-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Maestro, however, quickly added that good spirits also roam the Palace grounds. They neutralize whatever bad intentions the evil ghouls are planning on Malacañang’s human occupants and visitors.

The psychic said the naughtiest of Malacañang’s invisible residents is cigar-smoking Mr. Brown. Many members of the Presidential Security Guard, and some say even former President Corazon Aquino, have allegedly seen this towering ‘kapre’ who lives in the balete tree in front of the Palace.

A seasoned hardener in Malacañang said Mr. Brown started living in the sprawling grounds during the American occupation. The paranormal being reportedly feels insulted if he is ignored by passersby. Urban legend says anybody who gets his ire usually meets some kind of tragedy or accident. Thus, it is reportedly advisable for those who pass by the tree to at least smile or say hi, even though there is nobody in sight.

Maestro says photos of ghosts and Mr. Brown in Malacañang can be captured by digital or cellphone cameras.

President Benigno Aquino III has reportedly felt the bad vibes sent by evil spirits haunting Malacañang.

http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top-stories/16431-gma-boy-haunts-palace

By Artemio A. Dumlao

BAGUIO CITY (October 31, 2011) — A son of a former town mayor in Ilocos Norte becomes the latest victim of unabated killings in that northern province.

Ashley Madamba, son of former town mayor Benjamin Madamba, was found lifeless, swimming with his own blood and with two bullet holes in him Saturday early dawn right in their town.

Investigators found bullet wounds from a 9mm firearm from the younger Madamba’s face and body.
This although the San Nicolas town police are now following up a lead in the case, said Chief Inspector Lelan Benigno.
Witnesses accordingly saw three men who boarded the younger Madamba’s tricycle before he was found murdered in barangay 16, in their town at around 2AM Saturday.
Residents accordingly heard gunshot wounds but did not know it was the former town mayor’s son who was shot.

Police also said that initially, those who first saw the younger Madamba’s body thought he just met a vehicular mishap. But when investigators arrived, they found out that he was murdered.

“Killers Heyday Also in Ilocos Norte”

After the former town mayor son’s killing is the ever growing despair and its chilling effect on Ilocos Norte folks of the heyday of hired killers.

Only on Wednesday noon, a resident was also killed when he and his family were ambushed along the highway in sleepy but historic Paoay town, a one town away from San Nicolas, also in Ilocos Norte.

Though most of them were unscathed, Edgar Bungcayao, a resident of barangay Nagbacalan, in the said town, immediately died from gunshot wounds of still undetermined caliber after gunmen supposedly after his brother –Ramil—fired at the tricycle they were riding home from court.

Accordingly, Bungcayao, his mother Isabel, his brother Ramil, his sister Edna and tricycle driver Alex Purisima were heading from a court hearing in Paoay’s town center when pre-positioned gunmen fired at them at barangay Mumulaan, just a few meters from their barangay.

Bungacayao’s sister –Edna B. Menor – and the tricycle driver were hurt but are already safe.

Another businessman, reportedly into the buy-and-sell trade of carabaos and cows, was peppered with bullets in Pasuquin town, also in Ilocos Norte, Thursday last week.

This after a policeman was shot dead right inside the police station in Laoag City, the province’s capital, dawn Tuesday, also last week.

Patrocinio Cacal from barangay Sta Catalina, in Pasuquin, north of Laoag City, suffered multiple wounds from a caliber 45 firearm from a still unknown attacker along a remote location in the barangay.

Town policemen are looking after several angles into the killing, among which is his trade.

The family of the slain policeman in Laoag City is not buying theories that the retireable Senior Police Officer 4 Edwin Aquino, 52, would commit suicide as claimed by investigators.

“Killers Allied With Pols”

Accordingly, killers paid for specific “hits” double as “goons” of some Ilocos Norte town mayors.

This sending shivers and telling bad signals of the peace and order situation in the province, which has been hounded by countless killings.

More than a week ago, a business couple were ambushed by gunmen while enroute to the Batac City public market to sell their goods. A suspect accordingly has been nabbed to answer for the killing.

Killings here were linked to alleged proliferation of guns-for-hire in the province, which for long has not been stamped down.

Earlier, a provincial official bared that life is taken out by guns-for-hire for as low as P5,000.00.

“High Crime Solution Efficiency”

Although Ilocos Norte police director Sr. Supt. Marlou Chan, who also has been mired into various controversies including alleged jueteng payola said, “the Ilocos Norte police has the highest crime solution efficiency in the entire Region 1.”

“We have heightened our firearms confiscations to 50 percent after the Task Force Against Private Armed Groups was created,” Sr. Supt. Chan claimed.

Ilocos Norte has the second lowest incidences of shooting regionwide, Chan further claimed, adding, it has also the lowest drug affectation.

“We already arrested 8 of the 30 (members of Private Armed Groups) targets,” the police official also claimed.

But there is a growing exasperation in the province that the situation, especially on PAGs in Ilocos Norte has not improved. “Some killers are actually men of some mayors who are allied to provincial officials,” a government official who requested anonymity said.

But Sr. Supt. Chan retorted, such is untrue as mayors are helping in the Task Force Against PAGs. “It is different now. Mayors are getting charged and one was even suspended.”***Artemio A. Dumlao***