Archive | November 2006

Tausug performers, GeneBoyd’s works featured in Mindanao Week of Peace

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/25 November) — Musical plays on the Battle of Bud
Dahu by young Tausug performers from Jolo, Sulu and a peace concert will be
among the highlights of this year’s celebration of the Mindanao Week of
Peace.

The Initiatives for International Dialogue, the organizer, said the concert
will feature Popong Landero and other Davao artists who will render songs
and poetry as MindaNews opens “Beyond Sunset,” a weeklong photo exhibit in
memory of slain MindaNews photo editor GeneBoyd Lumawag.

Both events open today at the Matina Town Square park.

Dubbed “A Peace Tribute for Gene Boyd Lumawag”, the tribute will have two
parts, the “Sundown Rituals” (4:30 p.m.) and the world premier of the Tausug
performers’ “Antigong Agong” musical theater presentation (6:30 p.m.). Read full story here.

MILF chief negotiator: New proposal “good for the eye to see”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / November 24) – The Moro Islamic Liberation
Front (MILF) has described the government’s new proposal on the issue
of territory in their peace negotiations as “good for the eye to see”.

The MILF Internet website quoted the Front’s chief negotiator,
Mohagher Iqbal, as saying that the “right to self-determination” was
the “main sweetener” in the latest proposal.

Iqbal said this was a turnaround from the government’s objection to
the using the phrase in the course of their negotiations that started
in 1997. The MILF has always negotiated using the “right to self
determination” framework but he said the government refused.

He said the MILF proposed to use the words “freedom” and “right to
self-determination” in the negotiations for the Tripoli Agreement of
2001, “but the government agreed only on the first”.

Iqbal stressed that the MILF was “forward-looking” in negotiating
solutions to the “Moro problem” and “Mindanao conflict”.

He said that the new proposal has to be “examined meticulously” and
said that MILF peace panel held a “crucial” meeting Thursday at the
panel’s office in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat town, which now belongs to
the newly-created province of Sharif Kabungsuan. Read full story here.

New education scheme eyed to curb unemployment

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / November 24) – The government is launching a
new scheme to make it easier for students to get a college degree via
gradual technical or vocational courses.

But it could challenge the country’s traditional education system,
officials from the Technical Education and Skills Development
Authority and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said Friday as
they presented the “ladderized education” to reporters.

Ladderized education offers easier transition from skills-based
technical and vocational courses to higher education courses with
colleges and universities accrediting subjects and competencies earned
by a student from tech-vocational education.

At present, students who finished technical-vocational courses and who
wish to pursue a college degree have to re-enroll the subjects they
already earned from TESDA-accredited schools.

Dr. Gaspar Gayona, TESDA regional director for Southeastern Mindanao,
said that graduates of the shorter technical and vocational courses
could earn a competency certificate after passing an assessment test.
He said they could work on positions that require the certificate and
some degree of experience. Read full story here.

No clearance yet for controversial cement import

DAVAO CITY – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has not issued
any clearance for the sale of imported cement Horse brand in the local
market even after the government Bureau of Product Standards indicated
the cement passed the criteria, a trade official said.

Robert Barlis, chief of the Department of Trade and Industry’s field
service division in Southeastern Mindanao, told MindaNews Thursday
that the importer has to comply first with the standard markings for
the cement’s packaging before it could issue any clearance to allow
the impounded cement to be released from the warehouse.

Barlis said the importer would not be given an imported commodity
clearance yet for non-compliance to standard marking procedure saying
the product label and other information should be printed directly in
the cement pack, not in a sticker.

Barlis said the importer would have to go to court to drop the case
DTI filed against them for selling the product without the clearance. Read full story here.

SPDA gets only a fifth of proposed budget

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/23 November) — The government is appropriating only P200 million for
the reactivated Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA), just a fifth of its proposed
budget for 2007, an SPDA official said.

The SPDA’s reactivation, announced by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita on September 2, at the
10th anniversary of the signing of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between government and the
Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), was intended to serve as “catch up plan” for the
unimplemented socio-economic benefits from the peace pact.

Engr. Zamzamin Ampatuan, SPDA administrator and chief executive officer, told reporters Thursday
the “subsidy” for SPDA will not be enough to run the proposed projects next year.

But Ampatuan said they will “start with what we have.”

He said they will seek funding assistance from the Organization of the Islamic Conference and other
groups abroad.

Ampatuan said they plan to raise P800 million from various sources. Read full story here.

Talks impasse bad for children

(DAVAO CITY) — The impasse in the negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is likely to take its toll among children in Mindanao’s conflict-affected areas, a Philippine official of the United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF), said.

Leon Dominador Fajardo, coordinator of the UNICEF’s project on the protection of  children in conflict affected areas, told MindaNews it is a more difficult situation to wait in uncertainty.

He said the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) should be commended for holding on to the ceasefire agreement amid the stalled negotiations.

“But they have to break the stalemate to dispel any further psychosocial impact to people created by the uncertainty, especially to children,” he said.  

Fajardo cited the tension and stress created as the uncertainty extends longer and the pockets of incidents of armed encounters in conflict-affected areas. Read full story here.

Davao’s SP session hall now a wi-fi hotspot

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 Nov) — Who says wireless internet could only
be accessed in coffee shops, bars and restaurants?

Well, the session hall of the Sangguniang Panlungsod here is now a
wi-fi hotspot. Soon, the entire legislative building will have
wireless internet for “sound and accurate legislation.”

Councilor Rene Elias Lopez, who chairs the council’s committee on
information technology, said the move is a brand new addition to the
city council’s effort to improve legislation – by connecting to the
internet for fast access to information. “It’s helping us do research
in aid of legislation,” he told MindaNews.

Lopez said connecting the whole building to the internet will cost the
city council around P422,000.

He said that the wireless internet the councilors are enjoying now is
still a “demo connection” so they will appreciate the technology. (to be updated)