Saturday, October 29, 2011

Philippines - MILF negotiates continue - Malaysia MILF Conspiracy Fund true?

Philippines government will continue with peace talks even as it pursues "criminal elements" as called "All-out-for-justice" among the Muslim rebels for the recent killings of soldiers, the chief government negotiator said.

The deaths of as many as 40 soldiers, police and civilians in the past two weeks would hopefully not prevent planned peace talks from moving forward next month; chief peace negotiator Teresita Quintos Deles told government radio.

She said President Benigno Aquino III was still pushing through with the talks despite angry calls for an "all-out-for-justice" against the country's main Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

"We will pursue law enforcement [operations] against criminal elements but we will also continue the peace process. So we will separate that from the talks with the MILF.

"We really have to find a solution to the problem... where criminal elements sometimes mix with MILF forces on the ground," she added.

In the past two weeks, government forces in pursuit of wanted criminals have been attacked by Muslim rebels in a remote region of Zamboanga Sibugay province in lawless Mindanao Island, and in the nearby island of Basilan.

The killing of so many soldiers, police and civilians stoked public anger at the MILF who have been engaged in peace talks with the government since 2003 and have a ceasefire in place for the negotiations.

The MILF only disowned the gunmen involved in the Zamboanga Sibugay clash on Tuesday in the face of a massive military offensive, but also admit to killing 19 soldiers in Basilan, saying they had intruded into the rebels' territory.

More than 28,000 people were forced to flee their homes in Zamboanga Sibugay and Basilan due to the fighting with the Muslim rebels.

The government and MILF panels will have to meet in Kuala Lumpur in early November to try and thrash out the disagreements so that the peace talks can move forward, said Deles.

"This discussion is needed to see what we can do to establish accountability and to hold those responsible and to ensure these kinds of incidents do not happen again," she said.

The 12,000-strong MILF have said they remain committed to talks aimed at ending a decades-old rebellion that has left 150,000 dead since the 1970s.

5 Million Government Aid for MILF –Malaysian Conspiracy fund

It has become a big issue where Senator Francis Escudero question the palace why giving money to the MILF which been alleged and leaks that it has been used to purchased new high powered armaments for the Muslim rebels to fight against the Philippines' government.

The rumors were answered by the MILF that the 5 Million government aid for the MILF is still in the bank and they are open for audits as they denied they did not use the fund to purchase armaments.

Residents question where could be the MILF found source of fund to purchased new armaments to fight against the government wherein the international terrorist rebel is already dead? (referring to Osama Bin Laden)

Whistle blower from another muslim rebels groups leaked that they receive fund from Malaysian group to purchase armaments to fight against the Philippines government to destabilize the Aquino economic reform and to ruin the plan of Sultan Kiram in pushing to Philippines Government to takeover the North Borneo (Sabah)

The muslim rebel group admitted that they are receiving funding for their family from the unknown group in Malaysia to escalate attacks around the islands.

Malaysia has been worry of the fast economic progress of the Philippines which the country's power and stability might trigger to control back the North Borneo which is under control now by the Malaysian Government.

Malaysia remain insecure of the status of the North Borneo (Sabah) as is its legally own by the heirs of the Sultanate State of Sulu of which Sultan Kiram recognized himself as a Filipino and called his people in Sabah (North Borneo) as Sabahans – Filipinos. 

SolarWorld Files Complaint Against Chinese Panelmakers and Cell Manufacturers

DALLAS – A coalition of seven U.S.-based solar panel manufacturers filed a complaint Wednesday alleging unfair trade practices, setting off an investigation that could thrust the solar industry in the middle of a U.S.-China trade dispute.

By filing their petition, the companies are claiming that they are unable to compete in the lucrative and quickly expanding American solar market because, they say, they are being undercut by Chinese crystalline silicon panel and cell manufacturers that are dumping their product at artificially low prices. They also contend that panelmakers and cell manufacturers are receiving unfair subsidies from their government. A finding on behalf of the American companies would lead to tariffs being imposed on solar panels imported from China, possibly as soon as next spring.

The American division of SolarWorld, which employs more than 1,000 workers at its Oregon headquarters and manufacturing facility, is the only company named in the trade complaint. The other six remain anonymous, which is allowed by the Department of Commerce. The group on Wednesday launched the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing.

There was also an growing indication Thursday that German parent company SolarWorld may also be taking steps to file a complaint in Europe.

Trade complaints are not uncommon. However, according to industry sources, the sheer level of inventory and dollars at stake, and the vast potential of a future market, could make this among the most divisive trade complaints filed in recent years.

In response to the news, Rhone Resch president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said that his organization "will continue to support open markets based on free and fair trade principles." SEIA believes that is is crucial for governments and private organizations, however, to "operate within the framework of internationally-negotiated trade rules. 

“If it appears that trade obligations are not being met, solar companies – whether foreign or domestic — have the right to request an investigation into alleged unfair trade practices. These allegations must be thoroughly examined and, if unlawful trade practices are found, action to remedy those practices should be taken," he added.

Politically, some Republican presidential candidates and Congressional lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have indicated support for a more hardline stance against China over issues ranging from manufacturing to perceived currency manipulation. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has been among the most vocal critics of the price of solar panels coming into the American market. He recently wrote President Obama a letter saying the administration should impose a heavy tariff on panels coming in from China.

The International Trade Commission has 45 days to issue its preliminary determination, while the Department of Commerce has 180 days for the preliminary determination. At this point, tariffs could be set. The cases generally take 15 months for final determination. While much is conjecture at this point, early indications are that the tariff rate sought by the companies filing the claim are at 100 percent.

A ruling at the higher level could effectively shut out competition from the Chinese market. It also opens up the possibility that China could retaliate against U.S.-based manufacturers that depend on Chinese panelmakers and cell manufacturers, such as the polysilicon industry.

According to a recent report released by SEIA, the U.S. was a net solar exporter to China in 2010, so such a move could strain or potentially jeopardize many of the relationships between American and Chinese companies.

The petition was filed jointly with the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the United States International Trade Commission (ITC). According to sources, it is likely that the DOC and the ITC acted in an advisory role regarding the law and the process prior to the claim being filed. Both organizations now will shift to a fact-finding mode.

The ITC must make its preliminary determination based on three measures of injury:

  • Whether the volume of imports is significant
  • Whether the prices of those imports represents underselling, depresses prices or prevents price increases
  • Whether the imports have a negative impact on domestic producers and production.

Following the ITC determination, the DOC has up to six months to implement preliminary dumping duties. Panels could be sold in the U.S. during that six-month window, but any indication that products were being pushed through to avoid pending tariffs would make many of those transactions subject to penalty.

Chinese panelmakers and/or cell manufacturers could file for an appeal through the World Trade Organization, which could work to find a resolution.

INDUSTRY REACTION

Barry Cinnamon,  CEO, Westinghouse Solar

“My opinion is really calibrated on what we in the United States need to do for jobs. The Republicans have a jobs program, Democrats have a jobs program. And we in solar, we should have a jobs program of getting people to work by manufacturing and installing solar. If we can create more jobs installing relatively inexpensive solar panels, and free trade is what supports that, then I think that’s the right thing to do.”

Lisa Frantzis, Navigant Consulting

“The Chinese suppliers have certainly gained a tremendous market share globally. They’ve gone from 3 percent market share in 1997 to 54 percent maker share in 2011. Most of that has been in the last three or four years. The U.S. has gone from about 47 percent to 6 percent in that same time frame. If you look at some of the major module suppliers – Yingli, Trina, Suntech – in Q3, their modules are selling at about $1.30 a watt peak, and we’re hearing prices even lower here today, which will make it very hard for U.S. players to compete in the U.S. market.”

Adam Browning, Vote Solar

“Countries around the world offer incentives in order to attract and build manufacturing sectors. Germany has long offered 50 percent unsecured loans. Malaysia will give you a 10-year tax holiday if you site a manufacturing plant there. In fact, this is what we often ask the U.S. government to do. The key all along has been about reducing costs. China has identified solar as a strategic industry of national importance and the result is they’ve brought down costs tremendously. That is to the benefit of the sector globally. It results in much lower costs in installations and growth in the installation sector. At this point, I’d say a trade war is not of benefit to the American solar industry, the global solar industry and consumers in general.”

Lou Schwartz, Analyst

It certainly shouldn’t be a surprise that U.S. solar panel manufacturers are pursuing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy actions against their Chinese competitors; warnings began circulating in the Chinese renewable energy press months ago that this likely would be one consequence of “cabbage pricing” by Chinese solar exporters.  Given the inability of the Chinese to reign in runaway growth in solar capacity development, shrinkage in China’s most significant solar market largely as a result of the European Financial Crisis, growing discontent over high profile bankruptcies, such as Solyndra, amid a prolonged economic stupor in the U.S. and the failure of the Chinese government to more energetically put in place policies directing a greater percentage of this largely export-oriented industry to domestic markets, it all seems rather inevitable.  

Though avoidable, “it is what it is”, so we now must address the fallout, which will include more trade friction, an increase in subtle Chinese retaliatory actions, the acceleration of the shake-out in the Chinese solar industry, price increases in the U.S. as a consequence of reduced imports from China, a slowdown in the growth of U.S. solar installations and a delay in achieving the goal of grid parity.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

₱10 Billion Release by the DBM for Philippines AFP upgrade

After the ambushed of MILF militants that killed dozens of Soldier in Sulu Area, and NPA rebels attack to the Mining Camp Southern Philippines, the DBM ordered by the president to release the Armed Forces Modernization budget allocated for 2010 and 2011.

President Benigno Aquino III endowed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) 510 billion to become more effective in maintaining peace and order in the country.

In a press statement issued on Monday, October 24, Aquino ordered the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to release P10 billion for the AFP Modernization Program which will be used to acquire equipment and to finance capacity-building activities such as training.

"The President is committed to bringing all armed conflicts in the country to a permanent and peaceful end. One way to achieve this is upgrades for our soldiers, who are a key factor in achieving peace," DBM Secretary Florencio Abad said.

He added that special allotment release orders charged against the 2010 and 2011 appropriations of 5 billion each are now being prepared.

According to the budget secretary, the AFP will use the 2010 5 Billion funds to equip the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the Philippines Army, Navy and Airforce.

For the Philippines' Army the budget released is 1.4 Billion to procure the following:

·         14 armored personnel carriers

·        272 20W-Manpack radios

·        3,480 units of force protection equipment

The Philippine's Navy will also procure a strategic sealift vessel that costs 2 Billion.

For the Philippine Air Force, the government released the budget of 1.6 Billion to procure the following;

·        Special mission Aircrafts

·        2 light lift Aircrafts                             

As for the 2011 5 Billion budget, the AFP will purchase vehicles for civil military operations, health services and disaster response activities. These vehicles will include Philippine Army's 32 five-ton dump trucks and 55 special-purpose vehicles, and Philippine Air Force's two search-and-rescue helicopters, 30 special purpose vehicles and 15 amphibian vehicles.

The AFP will also use the 2011 budget to purchase weapons and communications equipment such as 1,376 handheld radios, 210 AV configuration radios, 100 base radios, and 150 mortars (60 mm) for the Philippine Army, as well as 78 units of audio-video equipment, 160 portable radio receivers, 100 sniper rifle systems, and 2,000 standard weapons systems for the Philippine Air Force.

To ensure integrity in the use of funds, Abad said the AFP has been required to submit a comprehensive report on the implementation status of the AFP

Modernization Program.

"We are ensuring that each and every peso spent by the AFP will directly result in better equipment and other operational support for our men-and-women in uniform," he said.

Asian and the World leaders mourn for the death of Saudi Ruler

World dignitaries were expected to begin arriving in Saudi Arabia on Monday to offer condolences for the death of Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, whose successor is yet to be named.

US Vice President Joe Biden, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak were among the world leaders heading to the Saudi capital to offer condolences.

The body of Prince Sultan, who died Saturday in a New York hospital, was repatriated to Riyadh late Monday for a subdued funeral on Tuesday, in line with strict Islamic traditions applied in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

Saudi state television Al-Ekhbariya aired live pictures from Riyadh air base where Sultan's body was taken from the plane in an ambulance.

Ailing King Abdullah, 87, on a wheelchair and wearing a surgical mask, was at the base to receive the crown prince's body, television footage showed.

It is the first time that the seat of the heir to the throne becomes vacant in the history of the oil-rich Gulf state.

Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, a half-brother of King Abdullah and the kingdom's internal security czar who has held the interior portfolio for over three decades, is touted as Sultan's most likely successor as heir.

King Abdullah, who is also the prime minister, had in 2009 appointed Prince Nayef, 78, as second deputy premier, in a move interpreted as putting him in line for the throne.

Sultan was the second deputy prime minister until the then crown prince Abdullah acceded to the throne in 2005.

Sultan's death comes also after Abdullah created in 2006 the Allegiance Council, comprised of 35 princes charged with deciding together with the reigning king who will be crown prince.

"The rules of the Allegiance Council stipulate that the crown prince would be chosen by the council," said Fahd al-Harthi, head of the Riyadh-based ASBAR Centre for Studies, Research and Communications.

"But the royal decree of this system has stated that the current king and crown prince are not forced to abide by this regulation," he told AFP.

Prince Nayef to be the next Ruler in Saudi Arabia

People in the region's power house sounded at ease about the issue of succession, with some hailing Nayef, known for being a conservative, as the best choice.

"I believe that Prince Nayef will be the next crown prince and this is a matter the Saudi people agree with, because the interior minister has a great experience in politics and security and we feel very comfortable with him," in office, said Hamad al-Nasser, 45.

"It will not make s big difference whether the Allegiance Council system is activated now or not, because all are agreed on Prince Nayef," added the public sector employee.

Ahmed Tayeb, 25, also sounded upbeat, expecting Nayef to be chosen.

"He is a good man, and has a strong personality. This is what we need, mainly given the current situation in the surrounding environment," he said.

Relations between the Sunni-dominated kingdom and Shiite Iran, its arch rival across the Gulf, are tense following an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the kingdom's envoy to Washington.

Saudi Arabia also keeps a close eye on developments in neighbouring Bahrain and Yemen, as well as other countries hit by the so-called "Arab Spring" uprisings demanding regime change.

Except for small protests by the Shiite minority in Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia was largely spared from the wave of popular protest movements, which has so far unseated three Arab leaders.

Prince Nayef, who mobilised his servicemen to prevent the winds of change from buffetting the kingdom, publically thanked Saudis for ignoring calls for demonstrations.

He also led a campaign against Islamist militants after the kingdom was hit by a string of deadly Al-Qaeda attacks between 2003 and 2006.

 

Philippines send condolences to Saudi Arabia

Vice President Jejomar Binay left for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Tuesday to officially extend the country's condolences to the bereaved family of the late Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud.

"We would like to assure His Majesty, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the Royal Family and the people of Saudi Arabia that the government and the people of the Philippines stand with them at this hour of their great loss," Binay said in a statement.

The vice president went as representative of President Benigno Aquino III. President Aquino is so busy in leading for the reconstruction of the country's economy after the deadly series of typhoons and flooding hit the North Luzon recently.

Sultan, who was in his 80s, passed away of an unspecified illness on October 22 while undergoing treatment in New York.

"The Crown Prince was a man of vision and many achievements. But for us, he was a true friend of the Philippines and Filipinos," Binay said.

The prince, who was the younger half-brother of King Abdullah, should have been the heir to the throne of the world's top oil exporter after serving as the kingdom's deputy prime minister and defense minister. His death reportedly opened questions about the succession in Saudi.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Malaysia Sees- Philippines could be the new ASEAN giant

Ceritalah by KARIM RASLAN (the Star Online – Malaysia)

The Philippines – with natural resources such as gold, copper, nickel and oil and gas aplenty – has tremendous potential. Last year, the republic registered an amazing 7.1% growth rate, and growing.

MALAYSIANS have looked down on the Philippines for decades, seeing the republic as South-East Asia's basket case, a source of maids, manual workers and little else.

However, with Noynoy Aquino's thumping electoral victory in last year's presidential election, international perceptions are starting to change and the Philippines fastpaced of its Rebranding.

At long last, the republic has a leader with an unquestionable mandate.

Indeed, the Philippines – especially for the businessman – is beginning to look very interesting.

On a personal note, and having experienced how Indonesia started turning around soon after Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's victory in 2004, Manila 2011 reminds me a great deal of how Jakarta was all those years ago: gradually reaching some measure of stability before booming.

Of course, recent natural disasters such as Typhoon Pedring have tended to focus our attention on the Philippines' many weaknesses, much in the same way the 2004 tsunami shook Indonesia.

Still, there's no denying that the two countries share many unfortunate similarities, beginning with their susceptibility to natural disasters, high levels of corruption and poverty, poor infrastructure and weak government.

Nonetheless, scale has its advantages.

The two great archipelagic nations are sprawling, island-based nations with huge populations – the Philippines' 94 million to Indonesia's 240 million.

Both are hampered by poor infrastructure, vast distances and a degree of lawlessness – especially in regions far from the centre of power.

However, the Philippines' poverty levels are more acute.

More than a fifth of all Filipinos (23.1 million) currently subsist on less than US$2 (RM6.2) a day.

Furthermore, the Philippines, having endured decades of Marcos' autocratic and venal kleptocracy, has only just managed to achieve a measure of political stability as institutions and civil society now seek to regain strength and resilience.

Indeed, political violence is still a reality in the Philippines – as the 2009 Maguindanao massacre tragically demonstrated.

Nevertheless, the Philippines, much like Indonesia, has tremendous potential.

In 2010, the republic registered an amazing 7.1% growth rate.

Natural resources ranging from gold, copper and nickel are also plentiful. Troubled Muslim-majority Mindanao is estimated to have a whopping US$1 trillion (RM3.1 trillion) worth of natural oil and gas deposits.

Indeed, the Philippines – for decades an international laggard – is no longer cash-strapped.

For starters, individual Filipinos have become big savers and the country's reserves (US$76bil or RM238.6bil) far exceed net foreign debt: a record that would put most European nations to shame.

There are three fast-growing drivers of the local economy; business process outsourcing (BPO), remittances and tourism.

According to the brokerage CLSA, BPO generated US$9bil (RM28.2bil) in 2010, up 25%.

Indeed, the republic is targeting US$25bil (RM78.5bil) in revenues by 2016.

Meanwhile, BPO jobs have kicked off a mini-boom as housing, banking and auto-sales have benefited from the advent of well over 600,000 middle-class consumers across the country with major hubs in provincial cities such as Cebu and Davao.

Remittances have also been growing steadily.

With over ten million Filipinos working abroad in 2010, well over US$18.8bil (RM59bil) was sent home.

Moreover, the country is sending more and more trained and skilled workers (such as nurses, accountants and technicians) to Europe, the Middle East and North America.

Tourism is also set to grow.

The archipelagic nation is set to become a major playground for North Asian tourists.

The soon-to-be inaugurated Air Asia Philippines will no doubt bring even more visitors to the islands of Bohol, Boracay and Iloilo with their white sandy beaches and historic towns and cities.

At the same time, casino operators, having witnessed Resorts World's phenomenal success, will be pouring money into newer and even grander developments along the Manila Bay area, thereby enhancing Philippine tourism offerings even more.

With a 70% approval rating, President Aquino has a golden opportunity to change his nation's future fundamentally.

Having seen how SBY has altered Indonesia's standing, it would be very unwise to bet against the Philippines' nascent turn-around.

What does this all mean for Malaysia?

For starters, it means that Filipinos, much like Indonesians, will not be flocking to work in our homes or on our plantations and construction sites in the near future.

Today's Filipino overseas workers possess skills (including fluency in the English language) that often surpass what's available in Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru or Penang.

Second, the Philippines will become a major challenge to our own services economy.

Third, the republic's booming and vast domestic market will attract global MNCs desperate for growth, distracting them from smaller nations including our own.

As the First World shudders once again with an impending credit crisis, middle-income nations like Malaysia have to weigh their options carefully.

Are we nimble enough to compete with Singapore and Hong Kong?

If not, can we fend off the competition from the new Asean giants – Indonesia and, now, the Philippines?

Can we become a more efficient destination for global business as these vast nations begin to stir?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

No Impasse - Libya's new leaders declare liberation

(Autopsy confirms Gadhafi killed by gunshot to head)

Members of Libya's interim government urged "tolerance and reconciliation" on Sunday as they declared the official liberation of Libya, three days after the death of former leader Moammar Gadhafi in a battle in Sirte.

The ceremony in the eastern city of Benghazi began with a reading from the Qur'an and the singing of the national anthem in front of hundreds waving the new Libyan flag.

"We declare to the whole world that we have liberated our beloved country, with its cities, villages, hill-tops, mountains, deserts and skies," said an official who opened the ceremony, which comes after eight months of conflict between rebels and Gadhafi's forces.

National Transitional Council leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil took the podium at the end of the event, starting by praying for "the souls of all the martyrs" — those who fought Gadhafi's forces and who died during the late dictator's reign.

"We should have forgiveness, tolerance and reconciliation. We should reject hatred. This is a necessary matter for the success of the future Libya," Jalil intoned. "Do not use force to take your rights back. All you have to do is to be faithful, patient and tolerant."

U.S. President Barack Obama hailed the declaration in a statement released on Sunday.

"After four decades of brutal dictatorship and eight months of deadly conflict, the Libyan people can now celebrate their freedom and the beginning of a new era of promise," Obama said.

He added the U.S. looks forward to working with Libyans to "help advance a stable, democratic transition" as they prepare for free and fair elections.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also added his congratulations Sunday, sending out a statement that the UN is committed to supporting "the Libyan people and their authorities as they work to build this brighter future."

"From this day onward, the Libyan people will be in full charge of their future — a future that their new leaders have declared will be based on justice and national reconciliation."

Sharia law 'basic source' of legislation

He emphasized that Sharia law would be the "basic source" of legislation in the country and that laws that contradict the teachings of Islam would be nullified.

Jalil talked about immediate changes to laws — specifically amending regulations concerning marriage, banking and housing loans, banishing massive interest rates — to conform to Sharia customs. He added that something special would be done for anti-Gadhafi fighters and widows of dead fighters but did not elaborate.

The CBC's Sasa Petricic, reporting from Misrata, says building a democracy after more than four decades of Gadhafi's rule will not be easy.

The Libyans, he said, "have to build a lot of institutions from the ground up and they have to do it in a country which has a lot of political, tribal and regional differences."

In Benghazi, Jalil thanked the businessmen who supported the fighters, funded convoys and "gave money for the sake of God and the Mighty."

Jalil also vowed to set up a national army that would serve the people and protect Libya's borders.

"Today we are one national flesh," said Jalil in the final moments of his speech. "We are all brothers and we love one another."

Jalil has pledged for elections for a new governing body to be held by June of next year.

After that the new body, called the Public National Conference, is to:

Appoint a prime minister, an interim government and a constituent authority which will draft a new constitution within 60 days.

The constitution will be put to a referendum.

Once the constitution is approved, general and presidential elections will be held within six months.

Questions remain concerning Gadhafi's death

Also on Sunday, Libya's chief forensic pathologist says an autopsy has confirmed that Gadhafi was killed by a shot to the head.

Dr. Othman al-Zintani says doctors completed the examination on Sunday but he won't disclose more details until he delivered a report to the attorney general.

Bloody images of Gadhafi being taunted and beaten by his captors in his hometown of Sirte have raised questions about whether he was killed in crossfire as suggested by the government or deliberately executed.

International concern about the issue had clouded plans by the transitional government to declare liberation later Sunday after months of bloodshed in a rebellion to oust the hated leader of nearly 42 years.

After the autopsy at a Misrata morgue, Gadhafi's body was returned to the meat locker where it has been on display to crowds of Libyans.

Countdown to elections

The CBC's Derek Stoffel, reporting from Libya, said the biggest celebration will be in Benghazi, where the rebel movement began.

Gadhafi's blood-streaked body has been put on display at a shopping centre in Misrata, as Libyan authorities argued about where to bury the remains.

Men, women and children lined up to view the body, which was laid out on a mattress on the floor of an emptied-out vegetable freezer.

"We are very happy that we got rid of the tyrant who made us tired and made us run all across Libya," said Misrata resident Mohamed Erhoma.

Fighters from Misrata, a city brutally besieged by regime forces during the civil war, seemed to claim ownership of the body, forcing the delay of a planned burial on Friday.

Son's body also on display

The bodies of Gadhafi's son Muatassim and his ex-defence minister Abu Bakr Younis were also put on display on Saturday, although they were covered with blankets so only their faces were visible.

The long-awaited declaration of liberation in Libya came more than two months after revolutionary forces swept into Tripoli and seized control of most of the oil-rich North African nation.

It was stalled by fierce resistance by Gadhafi loyalists in his hometown of Sirte, Bani Walid and pockets in the south.

The public display of the body underscores the message the interim government is trying to drive home to Libyans — that there is no going back.

"Wherever Libya goes, it's going to have to go in a new direction," Stoffel said.

Acting PM wanted Gadafi alive

At the same time, it's likely Gadhafi will be buried in a place where he can't be idolized or used as a symbol by those dissatisfied with the new direction, he said.

Jibril, who has said he plans to resign as acting prime minister after liberation, said Libya's National Transitional Council must move quickly to disarm former Libyan rebels and make sure huge weapons caches are turned over in coming days. The interim government has not explained in detail how it would tackle the task.

Jibril told the BBC in comments to be broadcast Sunday that "at the personal level I wish [Gadhafi] was alive" so he could face questions from the Libyan people buckling under decades of his harsh rule.

Jibril said he would not oppose a full investigation under international supervision into Gadhafi's death.

No more stalemate

The new peace winning tactics is to leave without impasse. This is the new war concept that the US power promoting to all allies. US learned from the past after the Korean War in 1953 leave stalemate which ends no victory but a forever struggle of people in the North Korea in absence of freedom and democracy.

The Arab spring has been warned by the Obama Administration that if people will desire transition of their government and oust their dictators, UN and Washington Power will back for no stalemate policy.

The victory of Libyan people reminding the other Arabian leaders that if the revolution will begin, they must have to step down prior to their death as the UN & US powers will support for the democracy and won't allow impasse in any war.

For the US move to restore power in ASIA is also giving a warning that if there is a battle in the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea) as UN & US is on the back to the Philippines with other surrounding strong allies like Japan, Australia, India, and New Zealand the war should end at no impasse. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

₱14.88-Billion NIA budget only 25% complete – now Chief ordered to quit

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala has called on officials of the Philippines' National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to comply with the wide-ranging revamp of the agency, saying those who could not accept the order should resign and find employment somewhere else.

Speaking to newsmen at the sidelines of a dialogue with local officials and farmers here Thursday afternoon, Alcala said people in government such as those in NIA should respect the decisions of their superiors, including their prerogative to reassign people.

"When you enter government service, when you are told that you will be assigned in a particular place and you don't want to be transferred, then just put up your own business," he said in Filipino.

Alcala was referring to the top-level NIA revamp implemented by the Department of Agriculture and the NIA Board which he chairs on orders of President Aquino.

The revamp affected three officials from the NIA central office, eight regional managers, two operation managers, and one project manager.

NIA Administrator Antonio Nangel, who accompanied Alcala here, said the reshuffle is meant to vigorously implement the rice self-sufficiency and food self-sufficiency programs of the Aquino administration.

He said the redistribution of NIA personnel is also intended to better achieve the mission, vision and objectives of the NIA as spelled out by Aquino and Alcala.

Aquino ordered the overhaul after NIA accomplished only 25 percent of its target of 30,958 hectares while spending over 60 percent of its 14.88-billion budget.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Gold prices feed fever on Philippines mountains in Mindanao

Mindanao the Land of Gold

Bukid sa Diwalwal, Mindanao - As grime-covered men emerge from deep shafts on the Philippines' "golden mountain", Norie Palma eagerly prepares to haggle for her share of ore from the weary miners.

The former laundrywoman turned gold buyer directs the procession to her small milling shack amid grunts from the miners whose backs are stooped under the weight of their hauls from the dangerous honeycomb tunnels of Mount Diwata.

"It is like this every day. People are always digging, searching and haggling for that stone with the best gold," says Palma, a 36-year-old mother of four who runs one of many backyard mining operations on Mount Diwata.

"Gold is what we live for on this mountain."

With global gold prices rising as investors park their funds in the precious metal to hedge against an uncertain global economy, Palma said she and other prospectors on Mount Diwata were enjoying a windfall.

Gold hit a record high of $1,921.15 an ounce in early September and, although it has since fallen back, some analysts have forecast it will hit the $2,000 mark this year.

A college dropout, Palma's operation has lately been producing thousands of dollars? worth of gold -- a fortune in the impoverished Philippines.

"You could say gold changed our life. I now have the money to buy the things that I want," she said. "And we want more of it while the prices are high."

Palma buys the ore dug up by the miners who don't have the means to process it, then trades with jewellers and brokers who regularly make the arduous trip up the 2,012 metre (6,600 feet) mountain to buy the yellow nuggets.

The Philippines has some of the biggest gold and other mineral deposits in the world, according to the US government, but the country's official mining industry is relatively small and hard to access for foreign firms.

Illegal mining, in which individuals or small-scale ventures simply start digging on vacant land, is rampant.

Mount Diwata -- located in the violence-plagued and often lawless southern region of Mindanao -- is the country's biggest and most famous of these "gold rush" sites.

It has yielded at least 2.7 million ounces of high grade ore since a tribesman first discovered gold there three decades ago, according to local government data.

The discovery of gold on the mountain triggered a mad rush of people from all walks of life, from military deserters and ex-communist rebels to gun runners and ordinary folk dreaming of that life-changing haul.

The government estimates that at the height of the gold fever in the early 1980s, the population in the area peaked at nearly 100,000.

The present population is believed to be 40,000, according to officials, but they said more miners had started returning to the area recently to take advantage of the rising prices.

However, Mount Diwata is as famous for the misery it has wrought upon the miners and the destruction of the local environment as it is for the riches enjoyed by the lucky ones.

The first generation miners and their families settled in small cliff-side shacks and dug tunnels under their homes, creating the blueprint for a chaotic and dangerous existence in which many laws of society and nature were ignored.

Highly toxic mercury is used in the mining process, polluting the Naboc stream that cuts through the village.

Armed disputes erupted between rival miners and their thugs, according to local village chief Rodolfo Boyles, himself an ex-miner, although he said violence dropped after the military stationed some troops there nine years ago.

He said hundreds of people had also perished in cave-ins and other mine-related accidents.

The hardships of working the mines have earned Diwata the tag "diwalwal", local slang referring to tongues that hang out after a hard day's labour in the tunnels.

"When you enter the mines your life is already at stake, you might be buried there or you might get hit by falling rock," said Dandy Labrador, 28, who left his work as a security guard to become a miner.

"It is dangerous and anything can happen."

Labrador said he arrived at Mount Diwata several years ago filled with dreams of striking it rich, but found that fortune-hunting was back-breaking work.

Like the vast bulk of the miners, Labrador works as a hired hand and is paid with a share of the ore that he digs up. He then sell his ore to brokers.

Still, Labrador said he earned more than he would as a construction worker or labourer in Manila, the country's capital.

"And I have not given up on my dream of becoming rich," he said.

Boyles said there had long been a plan to bring in big mining firms with modern extraction methods and make the operations there legal, but small miners had resisted the idea and continued to virtually control Mount Diwata.

With the high global gold prices, the government is concerned that there will be more Mount Diwata-style operations around the country.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje recently said 70 percent of gold produced in the country already came from illegal mines.

"There is the possibility of a gold rush, because gold is the safest commodity right now," he said. "But we have to manage our resources well... this is not the kind of mining we want to encourage."

Monday, October 17, 2011

US & Philippines Marines Begin Drills Near Spratlys

About 3,000 U.S. and Filipino marines’ soldiers started two weeks of annual military drills in the Philippines on Monday that will include a hostile beach assault exercise near the disputed Spratly Islands.

U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Nick Eisenbeiser said the Oct. 17-28 maneuvers would focus on honing their joint capability to ensure regional security and were not aimed at China or any country as an imaginary target.

"They shouldn't get worried," Eisenbeiser, when asked if the exercises were aimed at China, who’s growing naval power has set off concerns in the region. "We're assisting the Chinese in ensuring that their region is peaceful."

The exercises would ensure that U.S. and Philippines forces could jointly respond to "anything that arises," he said.

The United States irked Beijing last year by asserting that Washington had a national security interest in the peaceful resolution of the disputes over the Spratly Islands.

The potentially oil-rich islands are located in the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea), between Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia, and straddle some of the world's busiest sea lanes.

China seeks to resolve the disputes through bilateral talks with five other claimants, including the Philippines. Beijing has rejected any U.S. role in the resolution of the disputes over the islands.

Philippine military spokeswoman 1st Lt. Cherryl Tindog said an Oct. 27 drill will involve a mock raid by about 100 U.S. and Filipino marines from an American warship to capture a hostile beachhead west of Palawan province, which faces the South China Sea.

Other events include a live-fire exercise in Crow Valley in Tarlac province, north of Manila, and medical missions and school constructions in several Philippine towns.

One Filipino-occupied island was proposed as a possible site for joint training but was ruled out to avoid antagonizing China and other claimants. The island lies close to a Spratly reef occupied by Chinese forces and an island separately occupied by Vietnamese forces. The information came from two officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.

Philippines marine Brig. Gen. Eugenio Clemen said the exercises with U.S. forces would be confined to the country's territory so "nobody could question that."

The Philippines and Vietnam, another Spratlys claimant, have separately accused Chinese vessels of intruding into what they say is their part of the contested areas and of disrupting oil explorations in their territorial waters this year.

Both countries have since discussed those allegations with China and renewed calls for the peaceful resolution of the disputes, easing monthslong tensions.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Taiwan will deploy missile in Spratlys downplayed by the Philippines - Sultanate State of Sulu worried

Itu Aba Island (Taiwan: Taiping Island (Chinese: 太平島; pinyin: Tàipíng Dǎo; Vietnamese: Đảo Ba Bình; Filipino: Ligaw/Ligao), is the largest of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea and the only island with a freshwater supply. The island is elliptical in shape being 1.4 km in length and 0.4 km in width. It is part of the Tizard Bank (Zheng He Reefs), one of seven reefs in the Spratly Islands near the centre of the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea)

Taiwan's defense minister has backed a plan to deploy advanced missiles in the island Itu Aba (Taiwan: Taiping, Filipino: Ligao-Ligao, Vietnamese: Đo Ba Bình) in Spratlys over concerns that rival claimants to disputed islands are building up their arms, a legislator said Thursday.

Kao Hua-chu endorsed a proposal passed by the country's defense committee Wednesday (October 12, 2011) demanding coastguard units in Itu Aba (Taiping) and the Pratas islands -- claimed by China - be armed with Chaparral or Tien Chien I missiles.

"Minister Kao made it clear that he supports the proposal," he was quoted as saying in a statement released by Lin Yu-fang, the legislator from the ruling Kuomintang who pushed for the deployment.

Philippines defense department spokesman Zosimo Jesus Paredes said the country enjoyed good relations with Taiwan and believed its plan to supply missiles to coastguard units in the areas it claims was not a threat to the Philippines.

"We cannot dictate on Taiwan on what or what not to do," However, he said Manila was prepared to "defend to the hilt" islets it has already occupied in the Spraltys.

But when asked whether Manila considered a move towards aggression, he said: "Not really… we should not be over reactive."

However, the lobbying of power the Sultan of the Sultanate State of Sulu and North Borneo; Sultan Kiram is worry of this as he believed that the whole Spratlys is belong to his territory and under his sovereignty and belong to his people majority the Muslim people in Southern Philippines and Sultanate State of Sulu and North Borneo (Sabah).

Sultan Kiram revived his claim and challenged the Philippines government Saturday (October 15, 2011) to support them to take-over the North Borneo (Sabah) from Malaysia which is links to the islands of Palawan and the Spratlys Archipelago.

Sultan Kiram reminded the Philippines that the North Borneo (Sabah) is belong to the Sultanate State of Sulu and Borneo that links Palawan islands and Spratlys Archipelago which rightful owner is the Filipino people after turning-over his rights to the Philippines government in 1967.

He reminded also the majority Christian Filipinos that the North Borneo which is called now as Sabah by Malaysia was illegally captured by Britain and give it to Malaysia without his approval.

Taking-over back North Borneo (Sabah) will give more chance to the Philippines and the Sultanate State of Sulu to control the islands in the Spratlys – Kalayaan Island Group and the southern part of Palawan islands which is also claimed by Kuala Lumpur.

The deployment of advance missile by Taiwan triggered concern to the Sultan of the Sultanate state of Sulu as it is considered as belligerent action of Taiwan might triggers conflict and unwanted war  in his territory in the spratlys.

Apparently mindful of rising regional tensions, Kao said the Taiwanese coastguards may need advanced weaponry rather than the Chaparral which Taiwan first acquired in the 1980s.

"Perhaps Tien Chien I or more advanced air defense missile systems should be given priority since the Chaparral is pretty old," Kao said.

The plan came following a report in July which found that Taiwan's coastguards in the contested waters were vulnerable amid mounting tensions.

Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, China, Malaysia, and the Philippines claim all or part of the Spratlys, which could lie on top of large oil reserves.

The Taiwanese coastguard currently has a 130-strong garrison on Itu Iba island (Taiping), the biggest island in the Spratlys archipelago.

Lin said the proposed ground-to-air missile deployment would be legitimate, citing the ministry's recent report on the military buildups by Vietnam and other neighboring countries in the area.

Vietnam has deployed thousands of marines in the zone, backed Russia-made Su-27SK and Su-30MK2 fighter jets; Lin cited the report as saying.

"In stark contrast, the Taiwanese coastguards are only equipped with 20-mm air defense guns," he said in a statement.

The defense ministry added that in case of military conflicts, Taiwanese coastguards could hardly defend themselves against the Philippine forces equipped with naval gunboats, Lin added

The Philippines said Sunday it was prepared to defend its claims in the South China Sea, but downplayed a plan by Taiwan to deploy missiles in the area

Paredes stressed the government still believed in pursuing a peaceful solution, but stressed Taiwan's move might be misunderstood by some claimants as provocative.

He said Taiwan's move could be seen as "unsettling" by other claimants to the area, stressing that it should have officially informed them of its plan so as not to escalate tensions.

"I think moves like these should be coordinated (with other claimants) so that we will not be taken aback," he said.

On the other hand, the neighboring countries surrounding Taiwan and Hainan China is on the hand to support the Philippines of its Spratlys claim. Australia and Japan pronounced their support to the Philippines which later the New Zealand followed.

USA as the most powerful ally of the Philippines turnover its Hamilton Class cutter warship to the Philippines to boost its naval patrol in the Spartlys and recently but not yet confirmed by our team, the South Korea will offer also a navy patrol boat to the Philippines to be use in patrolling in the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea).

To follow more consolidate and contributed issues about the Spratlys join the Hikot's Spratlys Page.

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