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Philippine News Digest 144

September 26, 2008 · 


Week: September 21-26, 2008


  • 2 kids rescued from abductors in Patikul, Sulu
  • 2 peasant leaders seized in Bataan – rights group
  • China-made milk importers warned of raps

2 kids rescued from abductors in Patikul, Sulu
Article posted September 21, 2008 – 12:29 PM

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Two children were released by their abductors early Sunday morning after a five-day captivity in the hinterlands of Sulu province, south of this city.

Col. Eugenio Clemen, chief of the 3rd Marine Brigade, told reporters on Sunday that troops from the Marine Battalion Landing Team – 6 had rescued the children in Anuling village in Sulu’s Patikul town, said to be the turf of Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron.

Clemen identified the victims as Ben Austine, 3, and Benedict, 2, who were snatched by kidnappers in the morning of September 16 at the children’s residence in Kakuyagan village in Sulu’s Jolo town.

The suspects were identified as members of a group led by a certain Hajal Hatae. The group’s leader demanded P1 million in exchange for the safe release of the children. It was not immediately known whether they have ties with the Abu Sayyaf bandits who had been engaged in kidnapping activities in Mindanao.

Clemen said the MBLT-6 led by Lt. Col. Jimmy Larida planned the rescue operations after the parents of the children sought assistance from the Philippine Marines in the afternoon of September 20.

The operation was carried out at about 4:30 a.m., Sunday, which lead to capture of two of the suspected kidnappers identified as Jamiri Jalisan, the father of Hajal’s wife, and Julmina Hatae, Hajal’s wife. They were placed under investigation at the headquarters of the 3rd Marine Brigade.

2 peasant leaders seized in Bataan – rights group
D’Jay Lazaro, GMANews.TV
Article posted September 24, 2008 – 04:07 PM

MANILA, Philippines — Human rights group Karapatan on Wednesday expressed fears over the safety of two peasant organizers of the militant farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) who were abducted on September 21 and 22 in Dinalupihan town of Bataan province.

Karapatan identified the victims as Florencia Espiritu, and Nelson Balmania, who were reportedly seized by six suspected military agents separately.

In a press statement, Karapatan said that Balmania, a peasant organizer, arrived at barangay Daang Bago in Dinalupihan at around 5 p.m. on Sunday to meet Espiritu, a fellow organizer.

“It was there that he was abducted by unidentified men and was forced into a white Mitsubishi L-300 FB van which headed toward the direction of nearby Pampanga province,” said the statement.

Espiritu reached Daang Bago around 7 p.m. of that same day, not knowing what befell Balmania. She sent her a text message inquiring where he was and received a reply that he is staying with an acquaintance for the night. They exchanged texts and agreed to meet in the morning.

The next day, Espiritu waited in front of a sari-sari store along the highway in Daang Bago but when Balmanie failed to show up, armed men inside the same white van forcibly took her out of a tricycle that she was riding, said Karapatan, citing its preliminary investigation.

A witness to the event and driver of the tricycle, Donard Mallari, immediately reported the incident to the Dinalupihan Municipal Police Station and had it blottered.

Karapatan said both victims are members of the KMP and were actively campaigning for and supporting a peasant organization in Prado Siongco village of Lubao, Pampanga who have been evicted from their land and who are now staying in Bagong Daan, where both victims work.

Until this day, the whereabouts of the victims are still unknown, Karapatan said.

The continuing incidence of extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions and abductions of political activists in the Philippines prompted the United Nations Human Rights Council to send a team to conduct an investigation in the country last year.

In the latest victory for rights activists, the Tagaytay City Regional Trial Court last month freed five farmers who were charged by the military with rebellion, citing that the evidence presented were insufficient.

The five were arrested in Tagaytay City on April 28, 2006 after being suspected of plotting to overthrow the government. They were presented to media only after seven days.

China-made milk importers warned of raps
September 26, 2008

MANILA — The Bureau of Customs (BOC) will file criminal charges against importers who will bring China-made milk and dairy products in the country.

Commissioner Napoleon Morales said they will also invoke his visitorial power to inspect or check on supermarkets, warehouses and other commercial establishments where milk and dairy products are being sold and stored.

He added that all milk and dairy products found to be containing “melamine,” a chemical used in making plastics will be immediately seized and disposed of.

Melamine gives milk a higher protein count in tests. While ingesting minute amounts of it is not considered dangerous, the chemical can cause kidney stones and lead to kidney failure.


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