Dec 06

Arroyo’s spokesman defends martial law declaration (Xinhua)

‘Overkill, overreaction’—opposition solons (Inquirer):

MANILA, Philippines –(UPDATE)“Unconstitutional,” “overreaction,” and “overkill” were just some of the reactions by lawmakers at the House of Representatives over President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s declaration of martial law in Maguindanao Saturday.

Opposition lawmakers said they would question before the plenary the basis of Proclamation 1959, which placed Maguindanao, except in areas occupied by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, under martial law and suspended the writ of habeas corpus.

“Under the Constitution, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo may only declare martial law or suspend the writ of habeas corpus in case of invasion or rebellion. These conditions do not exist, ergo Proclamation 1959 is unconstitutional,” Bayan Muna partylist Representative Satur Ocampo said in a text message.



Philippines Martial Law

Soldiers take a break as they stand in front of their armored personnel carrier at the gate of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009 in Shariff Aguak town in Maguindanao province in southern Philippines. Government soldiers took the patriarch of a powerful clan, a former governor, and three other members of his family into custody after President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo put the entire province under martial law to hunt down suspects in the country’s worst political violence. (AP Photo/Pat Roque)

SHARIFF AGUAK, Philippines — Philippine troops arrested 62 people and discovered another major weapons cache Sunday after martial law was imposed in a southern province following the country’s worst political massacre.

Thousands of troops, backed by tanks and warplanes, have taken control of Maguindanao province in a government crackdown on the powerful Ampatuan clan, accused in the Nov. 23 killing of 57 people traveling in a convoy of a political rival. The clan has denied involvement.

Late Friday, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo imposed martial law in Maguindanao — the first use of martial law in the Philippines since late dictator Ferdinand Marcos imposed it nationwide more than 30 years ago. The move was announced on national television Saturday morning.

The government says it feared the Ampatuans, who have ruled unopposed with an iron fist over predominantly Muslim Maguindanao for years, were fomenting rebellion in response to the crackdown on them since the massacre.

Those arrested so far include the clan’s patriarch, at least six other family members, and clan followers, national police Chief Jesus Verzosa said.

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Nov 24

philippines-political-massacre
Map of the Philippines showing Maguindanao province, now under a state of emergency

SANIAG, Philippines — The Philippines declared a state of emergency in parts of the volatile south on Tuesday as anger spiralled over a savage political massacre that left at least 46 people dead.

Police on Mindanao island pulled bullet-riddled bodies from shallow graves after gunmen allegedly hired by a local political chief abducted then shot dead a group of politicians from a rival clan and accompanying journalists.

As thousands of troops fanned out across the ultra-tense Maguindanao province on Mindanao, President Gloria Arroyo declared a state of emergency for the area that would allow curfews and road checkpoints to be imposed.

“No effort will be spared to bring justice to the victims and hold the perpetrators accountable to the full limit of the law,” Arroyo said on national television.

National police spokesman Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina told reporters in Manila that 24 bodies had been recovered on Tuesday, on top of 22 that had been found on Monday.

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Oct 02

This is another picture after typhoon Ketsana hit:

philippines-typhoon-sept-27
People wade in the chest deep floodwater Sunday, Sept. 27, 2009 in suburban Cainta, east of Manila, Philippines

Source: Time


Philippines Flooding
Residents go on with their normal life amidst floodwaters in Taytay township, Rizal province, east of Manila, Philippines Friday Oct. 2, 2009. Tropical storm Ketsana brought the worst flooding in metropolitan Manila and neighboring provinces in more than 40 years that left more than 250 people dead and dozens more missing. The Philippines is bracing for the super typhoon Parma which is expected to hit the northern part of the country Saturday. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

MANILA, Philippines — Tens of thousands of villagers fled the likely path of a powerful typhoon bearing down Friday on the Philippines, as the government braced for the possibility of a second disaster just days after a storm killed more than 400.

Heavy rain drenched mountainous coastal regions in the northeast as Typhoon Parma tracked ominously toward heavily populated areas still saturated from the worst flooding in 40 years.

Parma was forecast to hit the east coast Saturday, packing sustained winds of up to 120 mph (195 kph) and gusts up to 140 mph (230 kph). Officials fear it may develop into a “super-typhoon,” the government’s weather bureau said.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared a nationwide “state of calamity” and ordered six provincial governments to evacuate residents from flood- and landslide-prone areas in the path of the storm.

The “state of calamity” extends the one applied to Manila and 25 provinces hit by the earlier storm. The declaration frees up funds to respond to emergencies.

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Sep 28

Philippines Flooding
A military truck loaded with evacuees braves the flooded street after the water subsides allowing big trucks to enter the area Monday, Sept. 28, 2009 in suburban Cainta, east of Manila, Philippines. Weary victims of a tropical storm that unleashed worst flooding in more than a decades begun cleaning up their damaged homes as rescue workers plucked more dead bodies from muddy floodwaters. (AP Photo/ Pat Roque)

MANILA, Philippines — Rescuers pulled more bodies from swollen rivers Monday as residents started to dig out their homes from under carpets of mud after flooding left 140 people dead in the Philippine capital and surrounding towns.

Overwhelmed officials called for international help, warning they may not have sufficient resources to withstand another storm that forecasters said was brewing east of the island nation and could hit as early as Friday.

Authorities expected the death toll from Tropical Storm Ketsana, which scythed across the northern Philippines on Saturday, to rise as rescuers penetrate villages blocked off by floating cars and other debris. The storm dumped more than a month’s worth of rain in just 12 hours, fueling the worst flooding to hit the country in more than 40 years. At least 140 people died, and 32 are missing.

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Jun 30

Related article (Typhoon Fengshen):
Fishing industry suffers after ferry tragedy:

“The government suspended all diving operations to recover bodies inside the vessel and banned fishing around the island on Friday after it was revealed the ferry was carrying a highly toxic pesticide.”

“Should the chemicals leak into its pristine waters the impact on local marine life would be devastating, according to marine biologists.”
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ILOILO CITY, Philippines – A “food shortage” looms in the next one to two months after massive floods due to typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen) devastated farm lands and livestock in the Western Visayas, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s adviser for the region said Sunday.

“We may face a food shortage, that is the extent of the damage from the typhoon,” Presidential Adviser on the Western Visayas Raul Bañas told reporters here after he received a delivery of relief supplies from Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano.

“In our aerial sorties, we saw firsthand how grave the damage is to crops. I think that’s one of the major problems we are facing,” he said.

Bañas said one of the affected provinces, Iloilo, is one of the top three rice-producing provinces in the country.

He said the floods destroyed 22 hectares or rice lands, equivalent to 66,000 metric tons of rice, and “almost wiped out” livestock and fisheries in the region.

In Cadiz town in Negros Occidental, Bañas said the storm destroyed half a billion pesos worth of fishing boats.

Bañas appealed for donations of potable water, saying the water systems destroyed by the storm have not been repaired.

By Joel Guinto
06/29/2008

Source: Inquirer.net

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May 14

Fidencio Alvarez abandoned his bean and corn farm in southern Honduras because of the rising cost of seeds, fuel and food. After months of one meal a day, he hiked with his wife and six children to find work in the city.
“We would wake up with empty stomachs and go to bed with empty stomachs,” said Alvarez, 37, who sought help from the Mission Lazarus aid group in Choluteca in January. “We couldn’t afford the seeds to plant food or the bus fare to buy the food.”

Honduran farmers like Alvarez can’t compete in a global marketplace where the costs of fuel and fertilizer soared and rice prices doubled in the past year. The former breadbasket of Central America now imports 83 percent of the rice it consumes — a dependency triggered almost two decades ago when it adopted free-market policies pushed by the World Bank and other lenders.

The country was $3.6 billion in debt in 1990. In return for loans from the World Bank, Honduras became one of dozens of developing nations that abandoned policies designed to protect farmers and citizens from volatile food prices. The U.S. House Financial Services Committee in Washington today explored the causes of the global food crisis and possible solutions.

The committee examined whether policies advocated by the bank and the International Monetary Fund contributed to the situation. Governments from Ghana to the Philippines were pressured to cut protective tariffs and farm supports and to grow more high-value crops for export, reports by the Washington-based World Bank show.

Haiti Pressure

The IMF pressed Haiti, as a condition of a 1994 loan, to open its economy to trade, Raj Patel, a scholar at the Center for African Studies in the University of California at Berkeley told the committee. When trade barriers fell, imports of subsidized rice from the U.S. surged, devastating the local rice farmers, Patel said.

“That is very odd,” said committee chair Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat. “For anyone to have looked at Haiti at that time and thought that it was a functioning economy is a sign I think of ideology going rampant.”

“Of course they got it wrong,” said Robert S. Zeigler, director-general at the International Rice Research Institute, southeast of Manila. “It will work if you’re an extremely wealthy country and you can import rice at any price. But if you’re not an extremely wealthy country, I think that’s very poor advice.” Continue reading »

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Apr 10

Filipinos face life in prison if they’re caught hoarding rice.

“The Department of Justice is preparing economic sabotage or plunder charges that carry a life sentence against traders found to be hoarding rice, the price of which has risen sharply amid a tight global supply,” The Inquirer reports. “Although the country has yet to experience a shortage, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Thursday vowed to hale to court hoarders and other unscrupulous rice traders for acts ‘inimical to the public interest.'”

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reiterated the warnings during a speech today, but also pledged to increase imports of the staple.

“Those who seek to take advantage of our people must be stopped,” she says, according to The Inquirer. “I am leading the charge to crack down on any form of corruption by public or private officials who would divert supplies or pervert the price of this essential commodity in any way.”

“Anyone caught stealing rice from the people will be thrown in jail,” she adds.

Bloomberg News
reports that the price of rice, a key staple in the global food supply, keeps hitting record highs. It’s now twice as expensive as it was at this time in 2007.

“We’re in for a tough time,” Roland Jansen, CEO of Mother Earth Investments AG, tells the financial news service, adding: “you will have huge problems of daily nutrition for half the planet.”

(Photo of workers in Manila taken March 28 by Romeo Ranoco, Reuters.)

Source: USA Today

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