Thousands Flee In S Philippines As Islamic Violence Spreads


Philippine President Benigno Aquino said he would deploy the “full force of the state” if needed to protect civilians as a standoff between troops and Muslim rebels dragged on for the fifth day in the restive south.

“There’s a thin line that can’t be crossed, putting civilians’ lives at risk,” Aquino said in a televised briefing yesterday from Zamboanga city, occupied in parts by rebels since Sept. 9. “When that line is crossed, I will be forced to not only show, but use the full force of the state,” he said.

 Philippine soldiers look at enemy positions as they try to protect residents putting out fires in their homes during a fire fight with Muslim rebels in Zamboanga City, Mindanao island on Sept. 12, 2013. Photograph: AP/Getty Images

The rebel Moro National Liberation Front “will be starting war” if its forces are attacked, Emmanuel Fontanilla, a spokesman for the group’s leader Nur Misuari, told ABS-CBN by phone yesterday.

The violence is complicating efforts to end four decades of insurgency on the island of Mindanao. Nearly 30,000 people are displaced, Adriano Fuego, a regional spokesman for the Office of Civil Defense, said by phone yesterday. At least 22 people have been killed, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala said in a mobile phone message, while about 100 members of a separate rebel group tried to enter nearby Lamitan city yesterday and a two-hour firefight wounded six soldiers.

Aquino needs to reach out to Misuari and ask his men to stop the attacks, Rommel Banlaoi, executive director of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research said by phone. “Without opening the channels of communication, there’s no other direction but continuing violence, which can spill over to other areas,” he said.

‘Strategic Advantage’

A prolonged standoff in Zamboanga would give the MNLF a “strategic advantage” and highlight Aquino’s difficulty in bringing peace to the area, Banlaoi said. “People are clamoring for decisive action,” he said.

Escalating violence could be “very damaging” to the business and investment climate in Mindanao, which accounted for 15 percent of the Philippine gross domestic product last year, IHS Global Insight Asia-Pacific Chief Economist Rajiv Biswas said in a note yesterday.

The fighting coincides with the resumption of peace negotiations with a separate rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, threatening government efforts to end an insurgency that has killed about 200,000 people and stifled development in Mindanao.

The violence “is a reflection of the inability of the Aquino administration to come up with a much more inclusive approach to creating peace in Mindanao,” said Richard Javad Heydarian, a political science lecturer at the Ateneo de Manila University. “What is needed is an expanded table of negotiation.” The MNLF and founder Misuari are not involved in the peace talks which resumed this week.

Meeting Delay

At Misuari’s request, Indonesia postponed a meeting between the MNLF and Philippine government representatives on a review of their 1996 peace deal, Aquino’s peace adviser, Teresita Deles, told ABS-CBN by phone yesterday. Misuari was head of the MNLF when the accord was signed and later served as governor of the autonomous Muslim region in the south.

Soldiers are keeping a tight cordon around areas in Zamboanga, Zagala told ABS-CBN by phone yesterday. The military supports negotiations with rebels loyal to Misuari, Zagala said.



27 feared dead as typhoon Guchol hits Philippines

Residents near the sea and on low lying areas told to evacuate.

Manila: Nineteen more people were feared dead after they were not yet accounted for from a capsized boat in southwest Philippines, raising to 27 the number of storm-related fatalities as typhoon Guchol veered near central eastern Philippines on Thursday morning, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Coordinating Council (NDRRCC) said.

Five were confirmed dead, nineteen others were reported missing, and 22 were rescued at sea when M/V Josille (which carried 46 people including crew members) was submerged near Pagawanin Island, El Nido, Palawan, southwestern Philippines on June 12, Undersecretary Benito Ramos, head of NDRRCC, said.

Rescue operation in the Palawan Sea is ongoing, he added.

Three more were confirmed dead due to heavy rains and flash-floods in five provinces in Mindanao, southern Philippines.

All these incidents occurred prior to the entry of typhoon Guchol in the country’s area of responsibility, Ramos said.

Meanwhile, residents near the sea and on low lying areas should evacuate, fishing boats and small seacraft were prohibited from setting sail or leaving port as Typhoon Gutchol was seen at moving at 85km/h with gustiness of 100km/h, 880km east of Huiuan, Eastern Samar as of 9am Thursday, Ramos said.

Typhoon Guchol will be closer to the Visayas and the Bicol region [in central Philippines], at 560km east of Virac, Catanduanes, on Friday, encouraging southwest monsoon rains to bring more rains in the typhoon’s path, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said.

Typhoon Guchol’s estimated rainfall is from 15 -25mm per hour, and 300 km diametre for three more days, from Friday to Monday, Pagasa said, adding the typhoon is expected to leave on Tuesday morning.

Because of Typhoon Gutchol’s wide radius, the warnings were sent to residents on the eastern seaboard of southern Luzon (in the northern part), central Visayas, and northeastern Mindanao (in the southern part), Pagasa said,

The storm (although entering the area of central; Visayas and southern Luzon’s Bicol region), will also affect Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao City, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Siargao, and Dinagat islands in the south, Pagasa said.

About 21 typhoons enter the Philippines every year, starting June, the beginning of the rainy season.

The Philippines is part of the Pacific’s Ring of Fire where typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions always occur.


366 More Cases of Dengue Fever in Philippines

A week after it announced a 17 percent spike in dengue cases, the Dept. of Health in Central Visayas documented 366 more cases of the mosquito-borne disease.

The bulk of cases, 104, are in Cebu City.

Dengue cases rose from 2,463 as of May 26 to 2,829 as of June 2, a Regional Epidemiology & Surveillance Unit (RESU) report said.

At the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC), treatment of dengue victims is free.

Poverty should not be a hindrance in getting medical attention, said Dr. Lee James Maratas, head of the pediatrics ward.

“Blood tests for CBC and platelet count here are free, so there’s no excuse,” Maratas said.

“All services are free” for dengue victim in the city-run hospital, he said, and assured there was enough medical supplies in their pharmacy.

“We should not be complacent. If one suffers a prolonged fever, have a CBC blood test to make sure the number of platelets is stable,” he said.

There’s no cure for dengue but a patient has to be constantly monitored and cared for until his or her blood platelet count goes back up.

In extreme cases, a blood transfusion has to be administered.

“There’s no medicine for dengue. What you need is close monitoring,” said Dr. Maratas.

“Kung pasagdan mao na ang kuyaw.” (If you’re not vigilant, that’s when it gets dangerous.)

Maratas said he aspires to see zero dengue admissions in the hospital. To achieve that, he said communities should follow the 4S campaign of the Department of Health: Search and destroy, Say no to indiscriminate fogging, Self-Protection and, Seek consultation.

Four dengue-related deaths in CCMC were reported this year.

Cebu City had 104 new cases and Lapu-Lapu City had 11 new cases within a one week span.

As of latest count Cebu City has 1,358 dengue cases this year, and Lapu-Lapu City has 147 cases.

Minglanilla town in south Cebu is third in the region with 141 cases so far this year.

Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental is in number 4 with 137.

Health officials earlier said the number is expected to increase especially with the onset of the rainy season.

Awareness and cleanliness campaigns have been conducted by the government to stop the surging number of dengue victims in the country.

Last Sunday, the Cebu Medical Society and Rotary Club Cebu launched a larvicide campaign in Cebu City to apply the chemical abate or temephos in pools of stagnant water that are suspected breeding grounds of the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

The chemicals kill mosquito larvae and pupa but is considered safe to use for humans.

Fogging, which is resorted to only during an actual outbreak of dengue, involves spraying chemicals in the air to kill adult dengue-carrying mosquitos.

The DOH said priority action should be focused on keeping a clean environment and eliminating breeding grounds of mosquitos which can be water containers at home or surroundings. Source