Saturday, May 27, 2006

Hunderds of Boys and teenagers kidnapped in Southern Philippines

By Mike Cohen

Manila - Philippine authorities are desperately searching the countryside in the Southern Philippine province of Sultan Kulerat for a large number of children believed to have been stolen by a cult that is allegedly abusing the children en-masse. In what is being called a massive child search and rescue operation the military and police are looking for a cave where scores of children have been brought to be members of the group; a 'shadowy cult police claim in a remote area. The Philippine Government Philippine News Agency reported "Police in Sultan Kudarat have started looking for a cave where hundreds of children were allegedly being held captive by a cult."

Authorities were alerted to the mass kidnappings after a "account by a 14-year-old boy who claimed to have escaped from the cult prompted authorities to search for the cave, possibly located in the mountains near Lutayan town" the remote hinterland province is home also to rebel groups it i unclear if the children are being kidnapped for service in the various armed bands that roam the Philippine countryside. The government run news agency reports;."The cult is believed responsible for the disappearance of children in various places, including South Cotabato, Sarangani and General Santos City". The areas are large communities where a sudden surge of disappearances has accrued.

"The boy, whose identity and address was withheld for security reasons, was brought to the Lutayan police station by residents approached by the child after fleeing from the cult." The State run news agency report said further “Police say that there have been other similar reports of this kind of crime”. adding further the boys escape may shed light on the disappearance of hundreds of other young boys and teenaged men, “He told policemen that he was kidnapped several weeks ago by a group of men. They covered his nose with a substance-laced cloth and he lost consciousness. When he woke up, the boy found himself in a dark cave filled with children, who were also kidnapped."

In Manila at the National Police Headquarters operations center say they fear the cult may be a cover for a mass recruitment by kidnapping of insurgent groups who have done this before on Basilan Island in the Southern Philippines. Four insurgent groups operate in the Southern Philippines ranging from Communist rebels. Two factions of the Islamic separatist movement the MNLF and the MILF but most of these groups do not engage in kidnapping of children as fighters.

The fourth a Al Qaeda linked group of insurgents called the Abu Sayyaf who are allies of the Jemaah Islamiah and Al Qaeda. Are known to kidnap en-mass to “recruit and brainwash’ young men and boys often keeping them for weeks until they join raids or crime spree’s or using them as ‘cannon fodder” between them and government forces.

Authorities say the last time group had been known to kidnap young men and boys was often prior to engaging in large battles. UNESCO & UNCHR have several times in the past condemned the use of child fighters in conflicts in the Philippine insurgency by armed groups in the last few years as the Philippine economy has improved it has become harder for some armed groups to find recruits claim authorities and they have been known to abduct children in a effort in increase their numbers in the field.

May 28th, 2006 Posted by mikeinmanila | Uncategorized, news, News and politics, News Of China, china, asia, war on terror, Views, war, philippines, Democrats, immigration, Filipino, freedom of speech, protests, border security, free speech, al qaeda, abu sayyaf, fil-am, filipino-american

Monday, May 15, 2006

The dangerous life is back...

Terror from all sides: Mass Graves reported; Purge w/in NPA ranks claims Military, Gov’t - while left claims 93 militants killed by right wing death squads.

Last Friday I put up a post after getting two calls and couple of text messages from Mindanao. Another call came from Tarlac,

Today the first media reports on 'mass grave s' having been found one containing as many as 20 murdered victims, 20 victims, nothing reported in the so called mainstream press or television; Why? good question, perhaps because so many killings are taking place 93 militants, I can't even remember how many people anymore in my profession, journalism in the last two years.

This discovery came after a couple of text messages and emails, the CDO mass grave contained a number of victims; in media we know about this occurring the late and mid 1980's BUT these graves contents I am told were New.

The grave(s) alleged the caller were victims of a left wing purge inside the leftist movement, or, so the first caller claimed - a report today in the Philippine Star - said that the Armed forces according to national security advisor Norberto Gonzales had recovered a series of small graves and that Police and the NBI were investigating;

That a NBI medico Legal teams was on site; the findings showed the contents to have been from the last few months. On the other hand I am sure there is always a possibility of some extent of truth to the Military's reports. But, with all the other killings many in broad daylight the tactics of 'right wing' militia like attacks. One wonders just how many more sites are out there awaiting discovery from too many factions within armed groups to mention.

The discovery also is coming on heels of 93 deaths of leftist group members in the country shows a pattern of a 'dark side' of insurgency is rising to the surface.

Of assassination teams on the right and left some perhaps also might group in those of the middle or Vigilante groups- adding all those numbers and bodies and you get a figure of over 600 victims in the last three years more or less.

Groups it seems are 'taking out' opponents with impunity. Add to this the specter of reports I had received last year of new "sparrow type" and 'eagle squad' units being trained by all sides and factions from rebel groups to militia units and a specter of a new wave of violence is coming to fold.

So far, the opposing death squads seem to be focusing on people within the organizations on both sides - so Military, Media, and, Police reports claim. On wonders when the squads will go after more visible targets, so far the units have been acting on localized vendettas and attacks, there is no clear pattern investigators say; But so far little of this is being pulled together.

Lets take the last week alone- a pastor and his wife were gunned down in Misamais oriental he had ties to a labor group, a 6 members of leftist 'peoples' groups killed, these new graves discovered with some fifty bodies, 5 more reports in rural areas of killings and shootings, a mayor almost hit south of manila in Laguna.

One thing is clear - there is a growth industry - in death by gunfire this month. Most of it out of public view, all of it on top of insurgency related clashes and attacks, then don't forget the other insurgency in Mindanao. The violence is growing; lets hope as is traditional the rainy season cools off the killings. Even though the rains themselves bring death from floods and landslides and ships sinking - the purges, death squads, and vigilantes show clearly that; 'The dangerous life' is back in the Philippines anew.

May 15th, 2006 Posted by mikeinmanila | Uncategorized, news, News and politics, asia, war on terror, Views, philippines, immigration, Filipino, Bush, Rants, Raves, Whathaveyou..., al qaeda, abu sayyaf, filipino-american

Thursday, May 11, 2006

‘Killing field’ mass grave uncovered in Northern Mindanao

A mass grave was unearthed south of Cagayan De Oro city in Mindanao a report reaching manila has said.

A investigation team is at the scene of the site. It is still unclear which group may be responcible for the area, Many of these mass graves are unearthed. Some contain victims of purges or execution styled killings.

A number of mass graves unearthed in the past. Most contained the remains of suspected victims of internal strife within the rebel groups- however- in some cases the victims were seen as possible deaths from combat who were hurredly burreid. It is unclaer exactly which group may be responcible for the site.

The Government has dispatched a team of investigators to the area as well as non-government human rights groups. The 40 year insurgency with the Maoist-Marxist New Peoples Army and the Government has been blamed for over 100,000 deaths over the last nealry 40 years.

A team member at the site believes the grave is recent - if this is true it would be a major discovery. However experts caution to wait for the forensics investigation to check on the site which is in a remote wooded area.

May 12th, 2006 Posted by mikeinmanila | Uncategorized, news, News and politics, pirates, asia, war on terror, terrorism, Views, philippines, immigration, border security, fil-am, filipino-american, Jemaah Islamiah

Friday, May 05, 2006

WHO: "get the world ready for a pandemic."

Warning about Bird flu have anew been raised in the World Health Organizations head; UN health organizations medical staff are also warnings that there is a strong need to revitalize human public health care.
In part they blame in the West "the decades of privatisation and handing over health care to huge HMO's and Health Service providers." tasks that governments had been in charge of may be endangering populations.

There is a lot of information online in the USA:

Avian influenza virus usually refers to influenza A viruses found chiefly in birds, but infections can occur in humans. The risk is generally low to most people, because the viruses do not usually infect humans. However, confirmed cases of human infection have been reported since 1997.…more

Information is also available from the WHO:

WHO is coordinating the global response to human cases of H5N1 avian influenza and monitoring the corresponding threat of an influenza pandemic. Information on this page tracks the evolving situation and provides access to both technical guidelines and information useful for the general public.

Latest information

5 May 2006
Avian influenza – situation in Egypt - update 7
Full text

5 May 2006
Cumulative Number of Confirmed Human Cases of Avian Influenza A/(H5N1) Reported to WHO
Full text

19 April 2006
Aide-Memoire: Infection control recommendations for avian influenza
Full text

Your best defense is information -

CG say’s Noordin Top - “JI” leader running out of money, support, &, people; Yet still a threat

A recent police action in Indonesia and serious efforts have been able to cast a shadow over the Asia wing of Jemaah Islamiah so a report from the International Crisis group claims,

"behaviour following Bali II suggests he is running short of money and experienced cadres. The loss on 29 April of the men who served as both couriers and recruiters has to be a significant blow. The Wonosobo raid was a triumph for the police, and Noordin’s arrest will be an even greater one." - ICG report
How ever the report points out that there is still a lot of work needed to done to ensure networks and group ties are swayed away from the extreme towards the mainstream.

Ji remains a potent terror force in part because of extensive family and other ties that stretches across Indonesia, Malaysia, S. Thailand and Mindanao in the Philippines.

Spectacular terror attacks and Iraq like IED bombings has "turned off" most of the moderates in the movement for the high loss of life among locals and not the targets intended victims, lading to fractured group less organized and more compartmentalized but as such still deadly.The hardcore remnants seems eager to create further chaos; and destruction, but also want to see larger alliances from more mainstream and moderate groups as well.

" Terrorism in Indonesia: Noordin’s Networks,* the latest briefing from the International Crisis Group, examines how Noordin has used personal networks, based around an inner circle of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) members but gradually expanding beyond them, to build a following committed to al-Qaeda style attacks – even though many in JI disapproved. “Noordin may think of himself as JI, but since the 2003 Marriott bombing, he has been running his own show that is seen as a deviant splinter by many in the JI mainstream,” says Sidney Jones, Crisis Group’s South East Asia Project Director in Jakarta."

The website has extensive reports and research on the Jemaah Islamiah; focused more on Indonesia. But provides insight for Philippine leaders on that side of the War versus extremists in the region.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

m… Philippines Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita; has cautioned Chinese officials against assuming that the attackers were Filipinos in the Spratly incident.

He's right- other nations and groups have done this using another countries ships to scare off fishermen from an area they want to do something in.

China did this; So has Vietnam in the parcel islands in the early 80's when they went to small unit naval action in the area over a much larger group of islands north of the Spratly's.

Each side used "Q-boat" tactics to scare off the other sides fishermen.

And Indonesian Bahasa and Tagalog can sound alike to people who have not heard the Malay languages before.

But one thing is clear unless pirates or another armed group from another country are using "Basnig" vessels as described in the Chinese report - then it is highly unlikely to be" suspect" of anyone scrutiny Filipino suspects.

Why? because only the Philippines has fishing vessels that look the way a Basnig does - with huge outriggers and its low silhouette and fast speed in calm seas compared to other more traditional fishing vessels.

The reports from China are a vessel with outriggers.

BUT; Could it be another of claimants playing a deadly game to put the blame on the Philippines? Who and why? Who has complained recently about rebuilding facilities in the South China Sea Islands of the municipality of Kalayaan or freedom land.

I must admit it is a theory- but- it is one needing a look into also along with the terror plot idea.

I know all too well the undeclared "no man's zone" that exists there in certain parts of the area near Palawan.

During fishing season it is not unheard of that people get hijacked , lose a cargo of fish one good haul can be worth over $15,000 so its not unheard of for a slow heavily laden vessel to have a crew get thrown overboard and or have vessels get into fire-fights over fishing grounds.

And I'm just talking about the fishermen here; not even the others;

"Free-traders" or smugglers also use the area in bulk; one of the largest ever hauls of Heroin smuggling captured in the USA came off a tip from local customs people in Palawan who got the tip from fishermen who saw cargo being transferred from one vessel to another at sea.

You name it, small motorbikes, electronics, cigarettes, clothing, dvd's, people- also drugs, guns, and anything else; that can fit into a small ship are commonly smuggled and trans-shipped here; methamphetamine or shabu is also common and also other contraband.

When ever we would go that far out before We'd always convince a of duty maritime policemen, or even those from the Navy to tag along. M1 Garand bearing militiamen or cafgu men is not unheard of

Before the runway at Kalayaan could accommodate c130's anew - the journey to the island was done mostly by either Navy Islander or Nomad aircraft.
Or PCF naval patrol vessel or the slow way a LST or slower still a fishing boat.

Another thing comes to mind; I remember a old incident many are not aware of way back in the 1970's a group of Filipino sailors and marines were dressed up like Vietnamese and went out in the area looking for smugglers.

The group was accompanied by a then Palawan congressman who told me about it; His son is now the local representative; Anyway; the group he was with went around the area in a Vietnamese fishing boat pretending to be Vietnamese in order to check on reports of the Chinese PLA and Kuomintang China Navy harassing fishing boats in the area.

They stumbled into a war zone of sorts! When the group’s other vessel was captured he was set to make a privileged speech to congress and expose the ongoing battle zone to the world.

He never got a chance; he was called into the Speakers chambers after he had presented his draft and rushed over to Malacanyang where with a smile on his face he was told not talk about it; the men who were captured had seized the island they were held at; they were a Philippine Navy special warfare team.

The capture was ruse to gain intelligence and eventually bribe the communist countries small garrison into defecting to the west. It worked; the small reef is now part of the Kalayaan area; the man who told me the story in 1990 was the late speaker Ramon Mitra; the President he told me said not to spill the beans was Ferdinand Marcos.

He told me back then don’t think the events out there are always as they seem; the islands small rocks and reefs are almost worthless; the location, known marine wealth and rumors of oil and natural gas make it Asia’s chess board and all nations play the game 24/7 to control the area.

May 4th, 2006 Posted by mikeinmanila | Uncategorized, News and politics, pirates, News Of China, china, asia, terrorism, Palawan, Views, Rants, Raves, Whathaveyou..., war on teror, abu sayyaf

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Malls. Parks and resort hotels on JI hitlist

A Report from the Philippine government to media today they say they have foiled a plot by a combined Abu Sayyaf - Jemaah Islamiah team and it's Al Qaeda funders to attack protests and rallies on May Day in Manila.

The bombings had been planned; using hand M67 fragmentation granades that have a injury radius of 50meters.

The grenades attacks were supposed to be carried out by a six man "strike team" of ASG-JI members who had planned to sow chaos. The plan was the hand grenades into the protest crowds; and the plan; was to blow up a second set of devices if a stampeded ensued use a series of IED's to create further mayhem.

the plan is still a threat idea - that is why the PNP wisely went out and talked behind the scenes to protest organizers; behind the scenes to warn them of the JI-ASG plot and asked their Marshall's to be "aware" of the plot. It seems to have worked- strangers were not allowed close to rally organizers and stages - people have to realize there are third and fourth wing elements who want to see violence erupt on the streets to create a shortwave to stir the mostly silent masses and middle class and provoke a more repressive response from the present Government.

Documents and communications chatter monitored indicates that the Asia wing of the Al Qaeda group is hard pressed to prove to its Middle Eastern backers; that they can open a second front in Asia and take pressure off of fighters in Iraq. Millions in support fund have been sent out; some from those backing Al Qaeda - others- from new sponsors; who are seeking more distractions for those wanting a to make the SE Asia theater a larger more violent area in this on-going "near WW3" that is happening around the globe,

The greatest concern by those in the middle east is also to derail and divert attention from successful programs "counter insurgent" of the RP, US, EU, and, Australia in the Philippine provinces of Basilan and Jolo.

The programs designed by the Philippine Government and funded and supported by the Allies vs. Al Qaeda have had a large measure of success.

The strike teams are also out in Mindanao itself; in an effort to derail or end Peaceful resolution of the Islamic separatist insurgency in the Southern Philippines through peace talks.sponsored by the USA and brokered by Malaysia with the majority of Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The raiding team led by Nelson Yabit, Sr. inspector PNP-CIDG; at a home in Marikina City last week recovered CD's computer disks and maps

Reuters in a report says more threats are feared ongoing;

"active threats" to bomb shopping malls and public parks in cities such as Cagayan de Oro, Davao, General Santos and Zamboanga.Police believe attacks are being planned by Khaddafy Janjalani, the Abu Sayyaf leader who is believed to be hiding on the southwestern island of Jolo, and Indonesian militants Dulmatin and Umar Patek, key suspects in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people."

Monday, May 01, 2006

South China Sea Pirate Attack needs another look….

“The ‘Southern Metropolitan Daily’ in Hainan reports that four Chinese fishermen were killed in a Pirate attack of the coast of Islands of the disputed “Spratly Chain” of islands near the Philippine island province of Palawan.” - WIRES

When I saw this report on the wires and the ABS-CBN website it may to view of most who see these kinds of raids and robberies to be just another attack.

Men in a small swift vessel hitting a fishing boat on the seas of the rich fishing grounds of the South China Sea;

Then one looks at the area and see's something.

They didn't take the vessel.

They left men alive.

They took radio's, communications gear, and money.

They kiiled four and then let the rest go after running the vessel a few hours.

The group was well armed – they hit the target; they got the items they needed and moved on; after taking some things of value to them off the ship.

What makes this different you might think? Having covered Pirate attacks and missing vessels in the area for now going on two decades pirate attacks follow one age old tradition -

Dead men tell no tales.

Typically the Pirates of the Sulu, Suluwesi, South China Sea, do not let those they encounter get away.

Pirates, don't leave anything behind or anyone, they scuttle and strip everything off of vessels.

In the opinion of people familiar with the situation there;
"This was either business rivalry fight over a rich fishing ground area - or- smugglers who don't want another vessel in an area they were using, and, lastly. Seeing a pattern to these strange attacks - hit and run - almost like "practice missions" the main suspect are Maritime Terror groups in the area.” - A senior retired Naval Officer now a Military Analyst warns.

Perhaps the most notorious of these, was a shadowy group in the area that; in the late 1980's- 1990's was organized to scare away foreign fishing vessels from the shores of a Southern Philippine Province.

A group that may be coming back; and with a vengeance; attempting to carry out a much more deadly attack against bigger targets.

Increasingly is seen by Naval forces in the area as part of the growing "Maritime Terror " tactics of a group that in the `1990's carried out a number of attacks like this to announce their presence. "The Bearer of the Sword" is the englsih name.

That group, originally formed to scare off "foreign" fishing vessels from the seas around the Sulu Archipelago, did things like this, boarding, striping vessels, taking some crew members and freeing the rest. So the name would move on to others.

The group had its roots in the Separatist Insurgency of Mindanao;

It called itself "Al Harakatul Al Islamyia," the name, is one of many who have covered them know; But to most people the type of attack is well known to people of the Southern Philippines Eastern Malaysia and Central North Eastern Indonesian Borneo.

The group that I am refering to is; known more as the ASG, the Abu Sayyaf Group.

They have hit in the Moro Gulf, the Mindanao Sea, the Davao Gulf, the Sulu Sea, and off the coast of Borneo. They are rumored to have similar groups in other parts of region, with similar names.

But the Spratly's? Yes, they are known for "activities" as well there.

Albeit not so well covered and reported as the more spectacular attacks they have carried out before..

It would be a good thing to find more information on the report.

The types of weapons, the language spoken by the pirates; It is something; considering attacks in other parts of the region at around the same time frame should be looked into. There have also been several mysterious incidents in the area ; several reports of vessels gone with a trace of wreakage.

I am sure this all being looked into; But, I am wondering - if considering the timing we might be hearing more about this soon.

No mouse in the House!

If there ever was a virus that could be created to do worst damage possible to humans using XP Pro it may have hit me today. Or perhaps in my carelessness, I struck a master delete stroke and I deleted the folder, or someone else, using my computer id.
I still can't figure it out or how, but somehow, my driver file for my mouse is gone from my system.

I stared at my PC trying to remember all the hot keys. I hit F1 for help; then grabbed the mouse to look for a topic. Okay, nothing. Now what?! So I did the old Alt-Tab to shift between windows. I went to Ctrl-Alt-Del to go to Task Manager. I tabbed and tabbed, shifted and shifted but nothing happened. I did the piano on F-keys, i banged away in every combination possible, mixed with all the Alts, Ctrl, Shifts that would have made Beethoven proud; it finally brought down a tab.

Since I had hit so many keys, I tried to remember what to do next so I did an old thing I used to do with my older windows 3.1 (or was it 2.5 or 5.0?!). I hit the key to minimize. It shut down my PC, saving all the setting for whatever piece of keyboard strokes I had done in the process!

I called our resident geek-of-this-condo; he came in after the PC rebooted and powered up. Took one look at my settings and ran screaming down the hallway. I don't know what I had done but there was this screen saying Missile Launch Confirmed. Have a nice day. The rest was in Hindi... oh well...

Another friend got in touch; he told me, no problem - hit Win-M to minimize and Win-D to display a window. Cool... I only had about 170 windows. And half of them flashing with the words ‘funds transferred’ and ‘funds deleted’, and all in Russian - something else I couldn’t understand. So I hit Ok, Ok, Ok.

Then the Power went off and stream of black vans came up the driveway.
No, it wasn't me. They were there for the neighbor. He kept screaming, “We’re all doomed! We’re all doomed! Were all doomed! “, as those nice men in white jackets put him in a nice robe with sleeves that wrapped around his back.

I also learned, from another friend who called, Alt-F4 closes a window as well as other important keystrokes. I am trying to write this to see if both my hands work and I can actually write something without cutting and pasting from something, somewhere else. The feeling is actually refreshing.

It has only taken me five hours to get this far.

Okay, now my friendly neighbor is back. He seems so relaxed in the stretcher. I'll just go to the window to say hello. Wait.

Ok I'm back. He was fine ‘til he saw me. Then he started screaming again.

This time, all I need to do is use the master control: Ctrl-Alt-Shift-Throw-the-PC-out-the-window. I think I'll try it now...

In brief: Can you imagine the impact of something like that would have on, say, a system filled with people who don't know hotkeys, who don’t know what to do if the mouse dies?! What would you do when there is no mouse in house? Or touchpad on the laptop? The pointer device is perhaps something that deserves the Nobel Prize, or a heck of royalty check. But I must admit, the hotkeys are fun and bring me back to a yesteryear of early PC'ing.

So I see I can still write…well, a little. Perhaps it’s not all that bad, after all…

Okay, gotta go buy a new mouse or PC, or see if I can figure out why I’m suddenly on all these new fun chatrooms.

And, oh, some guys have come to visit. Why are they wearing those helmets and goggles and dressed in black, though....

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