By ROGER M. BALANZA
Years ago, a military official said amid massive assaults by New People’s Army (NPA) on government forces in the Davao Region that the primary target of the communist rebels is the capture of Davao City.
Davao City, the premier city of Mindanao and the regional capital of southern Mindanao, is a prized catch for the insurgents.
This has not happened but the prognostication based on recent events is an open-ended scenario with the communist insurgency growing stronger in southern Mindanao. The military has admitted the Jose Maria Sison-founded Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing the NPA are now focusing their campaign in eastern Mindanao, particularly the Caraga and Davao regions.
Ever since, the mantra of every incoming chiefs-of-staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is a vow to totally crush the communist insurgency during their tenure.
Ever since, the mantra of every outgoing commander of the AFP has always been hot air: that the communist insurgency has been reduced to a minuscule entity as they bow out of office to usher in another chief-of-staff to continue the battle against what military describe as already a ‘non-entity.’
And yet, the insurgency remains alive, if not its forces growing bigger, is growing in ferocity in the fight against government forces; its mass base becoming broader in the hinterland areas despite the military’s intensified peace and development projects of bringing social services in the battle to capture the “heart and mind” of the hinterland population.
Is the capture of Davao City an imminent nightmare still to happen?
Thank God that it has not happened since the 2008 shock and awe prediction of the military official during a public consultation in Compostela Valley about the rebel agenda for Davao Region particularly its regional capital of Davao City.
But even as Davao City remains safe despite the warning of the Philippine Army 10th Infantry Division, the military claim the insurgency has been licked remains an untruth.
The insurgency is alive and the rebel agenda of circling and capturing Davao City could still happen.
That the communist insurgency is dying and that it has been reduced to a minuscule entity is a falsity that we confront today.
The facts are clear: After more than 4 decades of fighting, the insurgency is alive; the military boast to crush it remains a dream.
The battle continues and this may include the black scenario of the rebels capturing Davao City if not taking control of its peripheries.
Recent events could be indications of this scenario.
And there might just be a grain of truth in Lt. Col. Sumayo’s dreaded prophecy.
Lt. Col. Sumayo who represented then 10th Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Jogy Leo Fojas then told an assembly in 2008 in Compostela Valley that the rebel attacks in the province are simultaneous with atrocities in the Sarangani province, North Cotabato, Davao del Norte and Davao Oriental.
The military officer made his appearance at the Assembly for Peace, Unity and Good Governance held in Nabunturan, Compostela Valley organized by Governor Arturo Uy, as rebels went on a rampage of abducting troopers and policemen and raiding police and military outposts.
Showing pattern of rebel movements in a PowerPoint presentation, Sumayo pointed to clashes and encounters with the rebels in the provinces north, south, east and west of Davao City. Eventually, when the rebels get a foothold in these critical areas, the movements would lead to Davao City being encircled by rebel forces.
Davao City is the target, he said, explaining the city is at the center of Davao Region’s socio-economic and political activity and the rebels would want to make a loud statement by capturing the region’s capital.
The signs are frightful, if recent events are indications of the rebels’ bad intention of putting Davao City in a stranglehold.
In Davao City’s east-south-west peripheries, the NPA Mt. Apo sub-regional command in tandem with the NPA Far Couth Command operating in the Cotabato provinces recently made its presence anew with attacks in Davao del Sur towns; only this month, the rebels killed two members of the police Special Action Force in an ambush in Barakatan, Toril in Davao City. Only 70 kms. from downtown Davao City in Paquibato District, the First Pulang Bagani Command headed by legendary rebel leader Leoncio “Parago” Pitao remains active in the farflung district and the boundaries with Davao del Norte and Bukidnon.
That rebels have ease in penetrating the urban center was shown in a recent daring attack on an equipment depot of construction company at the heart of the Davao City where they burned heavy equipment.
Compostela Valley, tagged by military along with the Caraga Region as today’s hotbed of communist insurgency, has long coastal areas facing Davao City that could be a launching pad for a sea-borne attack on the city. Inland rebel forces could easily combined with Caraga and Davao del Norte rebel units in a concerted attack on Davao City.
Lieutenant General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. has replaced General Emmanuel Bautista as the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
In his valedictory report, Bautista spelled the gains of the AFP in the counter-insurgency campaign during his term.
In taking over his new post, Catapang vowed to win the battle against the insurgents.
The statement of the generals are recycled accomplishments and vows repeated over and over again.
And yet, the communist insurgency remains alive and stronger.
It was just right that the Davao City Council taught a hard lesson to a small-time event organizer by recommending that her business permit with City Hall be revoked for various violations of rules, regulations and policies imposed by the local government on business.
Kat Dalisay of Manic Nigthnings deserves her fate as she is also an epitome of arrogance when she described members of the Davao City Council (which includes Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte who is the presiding officer of the legislative body) as ‘hypocrites.”
Your foolishness will go home to your body, is an adage that this lady should learn.
Her beef? The Kadayawan Festival Executive Committee which has several city councilors as members, held at bay the approval of her application for special permit for a one-night paid-entrance “Rave Party,” to be held at the Crocodile Park during the August festival.
For many, many reasons: unpaid amusement tax for previous events, security concerns and the reports about past disco parties organized by Dalisay’s outfit where minors smoked and drank liquor beyond curfew hours ( drinking liquor by minors and selling them are prohibited by an ordinance) and about drugs being peddled in the disco party, and about young girls in skimpy attires in bawdy dancing exhibitions.
Vice Mayor Duterte was right in steering his city council to look deeper into the racket of Lady Kat.
The madam’s myopic and arrogant perspective was that her disco party is to be held in a private compound thus free from interference or regulation by the local government.
This is a big insult to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who several weeks ago marshaled tight security around the city in wake of reports of terrorist threats. As a precaution, City Hall, in fact, has banned any street parties during the Kadayawan Festival because they are easy targets for terrorist violence plus the fact that the parties need more warm police bodies to monitor and watch for threats.
Naturally, Lady Kat’s braggadocio got the goat of Vice Mayor Duterte, who lectured the woman about City Hall for security reasons having police power to lay down rules in entertainment events held even in private places. Madam Kat’s disco parties are said to draw thousands of young people who could be endangered in case trouble erupts without proper security measures.
The arrogance did not stop there. Lady Kat called city councilors hypocrites. She also accused them, for questioning her racket, of violating “freedom of expression” that is supposed to be expressed in lewd dancing in skimpy, two-piece attires by patrons of her disco party.
She also went public in her assaults against the city councilors and Vice Mayor Duterte by posting her insults in her Facebook account for all the world to read.
In her Facebook posts, Lady Kat also came short of calling city officials as prudes, with her suggestion to those who would attend her disco party to come in long sleeves because being sexy, as her clients would be when they come to her party, is supposedly banned by the local government.. Such arrogance!
Ranged against a blabber-mouthed woman, we almost pitied the vice mayor — who during his younger days was not exactly a saint with his all-night partying, all-night drinking binge and rowdy bar experiences — taking pains to give a lecture on radio and television about exposing young Dabawenyos from evil, about moral values and his authority as a public officials to protect them from bad influence like Lady Kat’s racket.
Where to now, Lady Kat?
During a city council session, where Lady Kat was present as an invited guest to answer questions about her racket from the people she called “hypocrites,” the city councilors passed a resolution asking City Hall to revoke her business permit.
Well, as we said, your foolishness will go home to your body.
A week before his fifth State of the Nation Address, a broad array of anti-pork barrel advocates has filed an impeachment complaint against President Benigno Aquino III. The 28 complainants are seeking Aquino’s removal from office, accusing him of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust arising from his implementation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program.
“Complainants accuse President Aquino of culpably violating the Constitution by usurping Congress’ power of the purse and undermining the principles of separation of powers and system of checks and balances. They likewise accuse the President of betraying the public trust by exacerbating the corrupt pork barrel system, committing tyrannical abuse of his powers, violating his oath of office, and perpetrating multiple counts of technical malversation and corruption of public officials.”
“For this, he must be held to account so that lessons must be learned. For this he must be impeached,” read the Prefatory of the impeachment complaint that was endorsed by Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate and Anakpawis Representative Fernando Hicap.
The complainants include persons who earlier questioned the DAP before the Supreme Court, as well as anti-pork advocates that figured in last year’s Million People March and succeeding actions. Religious leaders, members of the academe, corruption whistleblowers and various sectoral leaders also signed the complaint.
They are Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Secretary-General Renato M. Reyes, Jr.; Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) President Ferdinand Gaite,; Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) Founding Chairman/President Dante Jimenez, Atty. Jose Malvar Villegas Jr., President of Citizens Crime Watch; all of whom were petitioners versus the DAP before the Supreme Court.
Other complainants include retired Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz; Bishop Emergencio D. Padillo of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP); Bishop Joselito T. Cruz of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI); former Gabriela representative Liza L. Maza; UP Prof. Judy M. Taguiwalo; musician Monet Silvestre; Fr. Benjamin Alforque, MSC of the Church People’s Alliance Against Pork Barrel Convenor; Marie Sol S. Villalon of the Promotion for Church People’s Response (PCPR); Sandra Cam, President of the Whistleblowers Association; Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) Chairperson Rafael V. Mariano; Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) chairperson Elmer C. Labog; Migrante International (MIGRANTE) Chairperson Garry Martinez;UP Prof. Danilo A. Arao, Associate Dean, College of Mass Communications and Robert T. Mendoza, RX Pork Convenor;
Known leaders of the Scrap Pork Network such as artist Mae P. Paner or Juana Change, Inday Varona; Noemi Lardizabal-Dado and Deng Silorio also signed the complaint. They were joined by Lolita T. Donato, Alerto Mamimili Convenor; Gloria G. Arellano, Chairperson, Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY); Maria Aurora Santiago, Joan Mae Salvador, Secretary-General of GABRIELA, Vencer Mari Crisostomo, Anakbayan chairperson and Concepcion E. Empeno, Chairperson of Desaparecidos and mother of missing UP activist Karen Empeno.
“The Disbursement Acceleration Program turned the General Appropriations Act into one man’s pork barrel. By virtue of his unchecked exercise of discretion, he juggled funds from one program to another, or in the case of DAP, to projects based on his mere whim,” the complaint said.
The complainants believe that DAP further exacerbated the corruption in the pork barrel system by giving additional pork to lawmakers and local officials, in exchange for their support for the Aquino administration.
“Sa pamamagitan ng DAP, pinasahol pa ni Aquino ang korap na sistemang pork barrel sa bansa, salungat sa pangako niya “daang matuwid.”
“The President says DAP is a stimulus program done in good faith. This is belied by the list of DAP projects, most of which have nothing to do with stimulating the economy save for increasing government expenditures,” the Complainants said.
The complainants averred that DAP allowed Aquino to give lawmakers some P17.3 billion in extra pork through lump-sum items known as “other various local projects”. Other DAP expenditures were also lump-sum discretionary spending such as additional pork for local officials in the form of “support for LGUs” and various local infrastructure projects.
They said that to enlarge the presidential pork, Aquino withheld funding for so-called “slow-moving projects” and took control of the savings of agencies that were previously used for personel development. The benefits of ordinary teachers and other government employees suffered because the so-called “savings” were being centralized to fatten the presidential pork.
In a related development, reports reveal that nearly 900 Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) of the more than 1,000 total DAP SAROs were given to lawmakers. This bolsters the complainants allegations that DAP truly intended to function as presidential pork.
The Aboitiz-owned Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC) is optimistic it will meet the future demand for power supply even with the entry of many locators and investments, including the multi-billion-peso project of Megaworld and other prospective investors within its franchise area.
The assurance has been met with enthusiasm by the Davao City government whixh expects the rise of development projects in the city to demand more power.. City administrator Melchor Quitain said the city is enjoying a construction boom with a tsunami of investors flooding the city.
He is confident though that DLPC can respond to the situation so that the city’s continuing progress will not be hampered.
Ross Luga, DLPC assistant vice president for communications and branding, said the power firm is expecting eight projects to rise this year with huge usage for power, namely Felcris Hotels and Resorts, Mighty Steel Plant, Gaisano Grand Calinan, Gaisano Grand Tibungco, Holy Cross College, Ateneo de Davao University’s expansion, Vifel Cold Storage, and Kuroikebo Food Inc.
By 2015, it also sees the rise of NCCC Buhangin, Abreeza Residences, JTC Tower, and the Abreeza Hotel.
Luga said DLPC is preparing for the increase in the demand for power once Megaworld comes in. The property giant is expected to have huge demand for power when it starts and completes its P15-billion modern township within an 11-hectare property in the next five years.
The township, which will rise in what used to be the Lanang Golf and Country Club, will comprise of a residential and commercial condominiums, business process outsourcing (BPO) centers, and food and beverage establishments, all in high-rise structures.
“Yes. We are preparing for the increase in the demand for power due to new investors or locators,” Luga said. “We are not preparing only for Megaworld but for all prospective investors in our franchise area.”
The Reputation Management Department (RMD) of Davao Light and Power Co. joined RGMA’s Barangay 103.5 Barangayan last July 12 at Brgy. 8-A Madapo Hills. The team, headed by RMD-AVP Ross Luga, conducted a fun-filled game with brand items as prizes. Its main purpose is to educate the public about Davao Light’s various services and the power industry. However, this time the electric utility makes use of another approach, that is through fun games. “This is a perfect avenue for us to be closer to our customers and to educate them about electrical safety, how electricity reaches them and other important information they need to know.” said Luga.
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A P554 million solar energy project by NV Vogt Solar Energy One Inc. in Surallah, South Cotabato is the biggest investment registered during the second quarter of 2014 by the Bureau of Investments (BOI)-Davao Extension Office, said agency head Gil Dureza.
Dureza said registered investment from five investors totaled P729 million during the period, said Dureza in a report in Davao City-based SunStar Davao.
Dureza enumerated the other investors as Coco Davao Inc. in Sta Cruz, Davao del Sur for export coconut water concentrate (P125 million); See’s International Food Manufacturing Corp. for exportable banana chips in Mati City, Davao Oriental (P7 million); North Cotabato, Treelife Coco Sugar for the production of coco sugar (P17.79 million); and Clybros Merchandising Inc. in a tourism facility in Surigao City (P25 million).
First quarter investments registered through BOI-Davao reached P13.94 billion, said Dureza.
The Davao City Council is studying a proposed ordinance aiming to strengthen the city government’s program on maternal and health care.
The proposed ordinance on Maternal, Newborn, Child Health and Nutrition (MNCHN) Program, authored by Councilor Mary Joselle Villafuerte, chair of the committee on health, was approved recently on First Reading by the City Council.
The primary aim of the ordinance, Villafuerte said, is to establish the Health Service Delivery Network for closer coordination between the City Health Office, public and private hospitals, health centers, lying-in and birthing facilities.
The city-wide Health Service Delivery Network, said Villafuerte, hopes to cut down maternal and infant mortality rates.