Archive | May 2007

(Updated) The Pikit Abduction: a view from Davao City

Kidnapped victim Thomas Wallraf, a German national, is surrounded by
police officers at the Pikit town hall after he was released unharmed
by his abductors. MindaNews photo by Froilan Gallardo

DAVAO CITY – (Updates as of June 1) Maa resident Roselyn Timbal, owner of the Nissan van recovered in Balonguis village in Pikit town, could not tell the staff at the front desk of the Apo View Hotel, if “Thomas,” a guest in the hotel is her client’s first or last name.

When MindaNews called Timbal at her residence shortly after lunch (Thursday), then at her cellular phone later, she claimed she was still uninformed about the exact situation of her van, its driver, and her clients.

“Are they OK sir? What are they going to do with them?” she told MindaNews in the phone interview.

Thomas is of course, the German national “Thomas Wallraf” now in the news reported to have been kidnapped and later in the day, released unharmed with his Filipino wife, driver and another female companion. Read More…


Japanese, Korean firms eyeing taxi franchises in Davao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/31 May) – Two foreign firms have eyed to get
franchises to operate modern taxi services here where airconditioned
cabs compose only 20 percent of the registered taxis.

Abdulgafar Mohammad, regional director of the Land Transportation
Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), said this could boost the
taxi modernization effort they started earlier this year January up to
2009 when all taxi units running in the city shall have installed
airconditioning systems and the old units already fully refurbished.

He said the investors first went to the LTFRB office in Manila
and were referred to the local office here recently.

Mohammad did not identify the firms but revealed they have 60-40
ownership arrangements with their respective Filipino partners. Read More…

A walk in the shade along Ponciano Street

May 30, I’ll remember the day.

It was past noon, in fact close to 1p.m. when I decided to tag along Azir, another reporter, to drop by the Mindanao Times office. By 2p.m. we shall have arrived at the Grand Men Seng Hotel where Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, king to many, has a scheduled appearance with the Regional Peace and Order Council.

I always have a penchant on taking a walk, if not just to counter any guilt feelings for eating lunch “to the heart’s content.” Well sometimes there’s not much choice what with a mortifying traffic. Sometimes, it gets disorderly as bracing the walk even if its a hot, hot, hot day.

That’s what exactly unfolded in our walk from Marco Polo Hotel to Times, or so it seemed.

However, when we crossed Ponciano to take the cover of the trees, I realized we were really walking along the cool and calming shade of the tall Acacias and fruit trees lining Ponciano Street on the right side. Read More…

Duterte thumbs down plan to bring ‘Balikatan’ to Davao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 May) – A defiant Mayor Rodrigo Duterte once
again rejected a plan to bring the “Balikatan,” the joint
Philippine-American military exercises, to Davao City or to
Southeastern Mindanao, saying the move will serve as a magnet for
terrorist attacks.

Speaking at the regular meeting of the Regional Peace and Order
Council (RPOC), which he chairs, Duterte said that “somebody from the
top” conferred with him about the Balikatan war games two months ago.

The annual Balikatan (literally, “shoulder-to-shoulder”), opposed by
militant groups, is the focus of the two countries’ security alliance.

Duterte refused to identify who talked to him and if he was pressured
by Malacañang about it when asked by reporters why he brought the
issue up again. But Duterte stressed nobody can pressure him. “Basta
ayoko” (I really won’t allow it), he said. Read More…

CHR: Grecil no child soldier but ‘caught in crossfire’

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 May) – Grecil Buya, who was tagged by the
military as a “child soldier of the New People’s Army” when she was
killed in an encounter two months ago, was no child warrior but merely
a victim of a crossfire, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said.

The CHR, in its report on the results of its investigation on the
death of the nine-year-old child from New Bataan in Compostela Valley,
said Grecil died “in a crossfire” of a “legitimate encounter.”

CHR regional director Alberto Sipaco announced the result of the
investigation today (Wednesday) during the Regional Peace and Order
Council meeting at the Grand Men Seng Hotel here, some two months
Grecil’s death on March 31. Read More…

Davao vs. Bangkok pitted for WHO model city in Asia

May 31 is World No Tobacco Day!

In relation to that, Dr.Domilyn Villareiz of the Davao City Anti-Smoking Task Force shared to me over a chance encounter at the 911 operations center Tuesday, that the World Health Organization is choosing which between Davao City or Thailand’s capital, Bangkok is the rightful model city for its anti-smoking advocacy campaign.

Dr. Villareiz said Davao City was nominated by the Southeast Asian Tobacco Control Alliance, which is also based in Bangkok.

Ooops, when I saw that on their website, I thought Bangkok would win it as WHO announces the winner sometime tomorrow. Read More…

Whoever wins polls, it’ll be business as usual — traders

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 May) — It will be business as usual whoever
sits in office after the elections widely perceived as having been
marred by fraud and violence, said officials of business groups at the
Club 888 press conference Wednesday at The Marco Polo here.

Anthony Dizon, president of the Cold Chain Association of the
Philippines, said allegations of cheating is not making big “shock
waves” to their industry, adding that whether Team Unity or Genuince
Opposition wins, “businessmen will always be businessmen.”

“Concerns on food security transcends politics,” Dizon said, noting
that food-based industries will remain bullish as food is a basic

“As long as the industry’s policy needs are addressed, it will not
create so much shock waves,” he said. He added that many of the
winning candidates indicated they will back interests of the food

But Manny Solorio, president of the Mindanao Federation of Shippers
Association, told MindaNews that the mounting political tension
brought about by the May 14 polls caused some foreign businessmen to
delay investing until the situation has “cooled down”. Read More…