Showing posts with label Mindanao. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mindanao. Show all posts

First Batch of Qatari & Saudi investors Arrive the Philippines for Palawan, Visayas and Mindanao Million Dollar Projects

Qatari Investment in the Philippines
MOUs worth amounting to US$ 206 million were signed this afternoon between Qatari local companies and the Philippines Economic Zones Authority (PEZA) Photo: Asian Telegraph Qatai

1st batch of investors from Qatar, Mideast visit Philippines

The first batch of investors from Qatar and the Middle East has visited the Philippines to study the locations identified by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) for investments in several sectors.

Peza director general Charito B Plaza posted on her Facebook page that investors from the Middle East “are ready” to invest on agro-industrial economic zones, including a 1,000-hectare area for poultry and vegetable crops.

Other projects, according to Plaza, include the development of five islands in the southern part of the Philippines where investors are planning to build a resort, retirement village, and other tourism destinations.

The first batch of Middle East investors is among the 13 companies that signed letters of intent (LoI) with Peza during Philippine President Rodrigo R Duterte’s state visit to Qatar in April.

Speaking to Gulf Times during Duterte’s Qatar visit, Plaza had said Mindanao would be home to most of the $206mn (P10.3bn) worth of investments Peza signed with Qatari investors. She said the investments are expected to generate 5,870 new jobs in the country.

The investments range from retirement village projects, hotel and tourism ecozones, IT services and digital marketing, ecozone management services, poultry and halal food processing, as well as agro-industrial farming, and hospital and medical tourism economic zones, among others.

Plaza said, “While waiting for the Peza board’s approval of their application, we can already start looking for areas and economic zones where the investors can establish their industries. Vast islands in Palawan, Mindanao, and the Visayas are awaiting development.” According to Plaza, Peza had achieved 64% of its $1bn target from its initiatives in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE, which Duterte visited in April.

“Thanks to the good economic climate and favorable conditions of the Arab investment market, I am confident that Peza can easily exceed its $1bn target earmarked for the Middle East,” she pointed out.

She also said the Philippines would be an ideal distribution hub for Qatar in fields such as defense, manufacturing, and food processing due to its “strategic location” in Asia and the Pacific.

Plaza also emphasized on the need for economic zones with logistics hubs, seaports, and airports, which are under the helm of the Philippines’ Department of Transportation.

“These logistics hubs must have special economic zone services such as warehouses, cold storage, and container yards so that we have abundant facilities to stock goods while waiting for ships to arrive,” Plaza said. She added, “All types of economic zones can be built in the Philippines depending on the potential and the type of land. Agro-industrial, agro-forestry, paper making, aquamarine, eco-tourism, medical tourism, and export manufacturing remain to be the most popular.”

PEZA & Qatari Investors Sign MOUs of US $ 206 m Investments in Philippines Economic Zones

A number of Qatari business community members and their representatives had one to one detailed meeting with Chairman and accompanying members of Philippines Economic Zone Authority today.

On the sideline of President Duterte visit to Qatar, a number of MOUs worth amounting to US$ 206 million were signed this afternoon between Qatari local companies and the Philippines Economic Zones Authority (PEZA).

Ramon M. Lopez, Secretary (Minister) Department of Trade & Industry of Philippines was also present on the occasion and witnessed the MOU ceremony. On behalf of PEZA, Brig. Gen. Charito Booc Plaza, Director General PEZA signed the MOUs.

PEZA local representatives Joseph Rivera, Greg Loayon and Adel Sa’adeh assisted in organising the signing ceremony.

Philippines Trade minister and PEZA authorities are part of official delegation of President Rodrigo Duterte, who is on his official visit to State of Qatar.

Read more at Gulf Times and Asian Telegraph Qatar

Philippines to Build First Operational 100 Megawatt Nuclear Power Plant in Sulu this Year

Modern Nuclear Power Plant Diagraml
Modern Nuclear Power Plant Diagram

Department of Energy considering Sulu as site for nuclear plant this year

Sulu Archipelago in western Mindanao is non-typhoon and non-earthquake prone areas with almost Zero fault line an is among the areas being eyed for a modular nuclear power plant as the Department of Energy (DOE) targets to complete a nuclear energy program within the year.

The Nuclear Energy Program Implementing Organization (NEPIO) is currently studying the nuclear program of the country and has scheduled scientific visits and capacitating programs to come up with a national policy, Energy Undersecretary Donato Marcos said.

“Within this year, we will come up with a comprehensive report. Of course it will be presented to the Office of the President,” Marcos said.

NEPIO was created by the DOE to unify the conduct of various studies and research on nuclear energy development in the country.

It was designed to work in three phases, starting with a comprehensive study on the overview of the country’s energy needs which will lead to forming a policy decision on nuclear.

Phase 2 calls for the preparatory work for the construction of a nuclear power plant while Phase 3 pertains to the activities to implement the said power facility.

The study is expected to undergo a long process to iron out every detail for the country’s nuclear program, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said.

“What makes it longer is process because of course, a due process for everybody…So we have to go through the process every step of it. Unlike when you have a country that is willing or a host province that would be willing to do it, then the process will be faster,” he said.

Cusi said there is still a lot of opposition to  the operation of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), which has been mothballed since the 1980s.

$2.3 Billion USD Dollar Mothballed Nuclear Power Plant in Bataan
$2.3 Billion USD Dollar Mothballed Nuclear Power Plant in Bataan. Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is a nuclear power plant, completed but never fueled, on Bataan Peninsula, 100 kilometers west of Manila in the Philippines. It is located on a 3.57 square kilometre government reservation at Napot Point in Morong, Bataan. 

“We are going in to the process of resolving all the concerns that are being raised against it,” he said.

Sulu province has been very aggressive in pitching to host a nuclear power facility, Marcos said.

“They usually visit the secretary and proposing that they will be hosting a SMR, a small modular reactor, so they can finally have stable, secured, predictable and reasonably priced electricity in the region,” Marcos said.

Since it’s modular, it can have a capacity of 100 megawatts (MW) at most, the DOE undersecretary said.

Putting up a nuclear modular reactor in other provinces is also part of the study.

“As long as the provinces are willing. That’s why were forming a national policy… Once it is in place, and there is a host province, we can do it,” Cusi said.

If materialized, Sulu, Mindanao could be the first province in the Philippines to have the operational nuclear powerplant after the mothballed Nuclear Powerplant in Morong, Bataan in Northern Luzon.

Western countries are promoting the Nuclear Power Plant as clean, cheapest and safest renewable source of energy.

Armed Forces united & published a manifesto AGAINST BBL Bangsamoro - Shocks President Aquino!


Aquino ‘surprised’ by Bangsamoro manifesto

SEVERAL GROUPS of retired military and police servicemen, a number of retired chiefs-of-staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and one retired chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) called for the junking of the peace agreements between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in a published “manifesto” that President Benigno S. C. Aquino III said took him by surprise.

In a “Manifesto of Retired Officers” published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Monday, the groups urged the Supreme Court to declare as null and void the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), saying these agreements violate the Philippine Constitution.

The 13 groups which signed the call include the following:

* Association of General and Flag Officers

* National ROTC Alumni Association

* Kampilan Peacekeepers Association

* Fraternal Organization of ROTC Reservists and Veterans

* Filipino War Veterans Foundation

* Philippine National Police Retirees Association

* Veteran Generals and Flag Officers Federation

* Cavliers 57

* Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association

* Kapisanan ng Kawal Mindanao

* Philippine Defense and Armed Forces Attache Association

* Last Watering Hole

* Reform the Armed Forces Movement Foundation

Retired PNP chief Umberto A. Rodriguez also signed the manifesto, together with retired AFP chiefs Efren I. Abu, Dionisio R. Santiago, Generoso S. Sengu and Alexander B. Yano.

Political analyst Ramon C. Casiple said that in the military and police service, retired officials tend to have an influence on their junior officers given the culture and nature of these organizations.

“Within the military and police circles, they are influential in a sense that the active leaders now used to be their junior officers,” Mr. Casiple said in a phone interview Monday afternoon.

“I’m not saying that they can actually command their junior officers but we can say that their influence to them is considerable,” he added.

Mr. Aquino said he was “surprised” by the statement, as he noted several among the signatories used to be part of the security cluster.

“So, I was surprised that their reaction was to that degree and that they have objections,” Mr. Aquino told reporters Monday.

“Maybe what’s good is to have a public dialogue with them... so everyone can see if their position on the matter has sound basis,” he added.

In the manifesto, the groups called for safeguards on the proposed BBL, including provisions stating that the proposed Bangsamoro region is “a constituent part of the Republic of the Philippines.”

Other provisions being pushed in the manifesto include a renouncement of separatism, disarmament of all combatants six months after the agreement’s ratification, and conformity of the proposed Bangsamoro region with the Philippine Constitution. –read more at Business World Online

Tourist blatantly breaks Davao city's anti-smoking ordinance, swallows cigarette butt


Duterte forces smoking tourist to swallow cigarette butt

* A local tourist openly defied Davao City’s anti-smoking ordinance

* He also mocked the restaurant owner who confronted him about the violation

* Duterte poked gun at the man’s crotch and gave the smoker three choices

* The man ended up eating his own cigarette

'Papiliin kita: barilin ko ang bayag mo, i-preso kita, o kainin mo ang upos ng sigarilyo mo,' asks the feisty Davao City mayor of a tourist caught smoking


MANILA, Philippines – A tourist literally got a taste of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s non-conventional style of law enforcement.

A Filipino tourist was forced by the mayor to swallow the butt of the cigarette he was smoking after refusing to follow Davao City’s famed smoking ban, according to a Facebook post in a page calling for Duterte’s presidential bid.

The post was written by former North Cotabato governor and former journalist Manny Piñol, who openly supports a presidential candidacy for Duterte.

The tourist was in the city for the Kadayawan Festival when he dared to smoke in a restaurant one night, read the post, crediting “sources close to” Duterte for the information.

The restaurant owner informed the tourist of the anti-smoking ordinance in the city which prohibits smoking in public places.

The smoker allegedly asked, “On whose orders? Bakit pera ba ni Duterte and binibili ko ng sigarilyo? (Why, am I using Duterte’s money to buy a cigarette?)”

Unfortunately for the tourist, the restaurant owner turned out to be a friend of Duterte. The owner asked the police to inform Duterte of the tourist’s transgression.

A few minutes later, the mayor himself walked into the restaurant, prompting the shocked tourist to drop his cigarette and step on it.

Duterte then sat beside the tourist, “pulled out a snub-nosed .38 revolver and poked it at the man’s crotch,” Piñol wrote.

The mayor then allegedly told the smoker: “Papiliin kita: barilin ko ang bayag mo, i-preso kita, o kainin mo ang upos ng sigarilyo mo (I’ll give you these choices: I’ll shoot your balls, send you to jail, or you eat your cigarette butt).”

To these the smoker could only muster a measly “Sorry Mayor” before picking up the cigarette butt and swallowing it, wrote Piñol.


Davao City is 9th safest City in the World. Image source: Davao Eagle

Dare to challenge the law?

Before leaving the restaurant, witnesses heard Duterte tell the smoker, “Never ever challenge the law.”

Duterte has earned adulation for his hands-on leadership style that many say helped turn Davao City into one of the safest in the country.

But his “vigilante style” of justice and open support for killing criminals has also sparked outrage among human rights advocates and even Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

Surveys tag him as a popular choice for president in the lead-up to the 2016 national elections. In a May 8-18, 2015 survey done by Laylo Research Strategies, Duterte and former president Joseph Estrada were tied at 3rd place with their national rating of 10%.

Though Duterte is yet to declare his presidential bid and although he has been sending mixed signals about his real intentions for 2016, he has been going around the country explaining his would-be platform and all-out support for federalism in the Philippines. – Pia Ranada/ / Kickerdaily

Mindanao Revenue is 54% of total Philippine earnings, Federalism the last Option for Peace and Development

Proposed Federal States of the Philippines. Source: Rebuilding for a Better Philippines
  • "The unitary system sucks because it boils down to patronage and that the decision-making and sharing of resources are concentrated in Metro Manila," Duterte said
  • Federalism is a fall-back position in Mindanao if the Bangsamoro Basic Law fails.
  • "It is an option acceptable to Nur Misuari and to the rest of Mindanao that contributes 54 percent of the total Philippine earnings from agricultural exports," Duterte said.
  • The current BBL only recognized the MILF -a  Maguindanao tribe leaded revolutionary group and Ignoring the MNLF which is headed by Nur Misuari a Tausug tribe faction, and the original revolutionary group. 
    • Tausug and Maguindanao muslim tribes are foes and fighting each other (Rido)
    • Tausug and Maranao muslim tribes are not also friends (They are avoiding each other)
    • If the Philippines will empower the MILF (Maguindanao) it seems like the government allows the possible massacre of Tausug tribes so there will be no peace at all because Tausug will fights back
    • Separating the 2 muslim tribes into 2 different states as BangsaMoro and Sultanate of Sulu or BangsaSug could be the best solution 
    • Majority of the Tribes in Mindanao are not Muslim. The largest Subanen tribes with territory Span from Basilan island, Zamboanga Peninsula, Misamis Oriental and Occidental, Lanao del norte (Higaonon -Subanen), Cagayan de oro, Gingoog and Camiguin Island are peaceful non-muslim tribes who never been and never converted into islam from the beginning of the History of Mindanao.
    • Second majority tribes which is the Mandaya tribes of Davao provinces, Comval, Agusan and Surigao with its branches such as the the Kamayo tribes, Manobo, B'laan, Mansaka, Tasaday, Mamanwa and other are also non-muslim tribes. The Bukidnon, areas have also other non-muslim tribes which should be given voice like the muslim tribes.
  • "It is acceptable to Palawan that was supposed to earn ₱72 billion from the Malampaya oil fields but is getting nothing in return," he said.
  • Duterte said , under the current unitary system of government, the destiny of the nation is controlled by politicians who come and go, and most of whom do not even know what to do.

Duterte says federalism only way out of the hump for RP

by Jimmy K. Laking 

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte last week told a gathering of Rotarians in Baguio City that federalism is the only option left for the Philippines to reach the development that Malaysia has been able to attain.

"The unitary system sucks because it boils down to patronage and that the decision-making and sharing of resources are concentrated in Metro Manila," he said.

He said federalism is a fall-back position in Mindanao if the Bangsamoro Basic Law fails.

"It is an option acceptable to Nur Misuari and to the rest of Mindanao that contributes 54 percent of the total Philippine earnings from agricultural exports," he said.

"It is acceptable to Palawan that was supposed to earn P72 billion from the Malampaya oil fields but is getting nothing in return," he said.

He said under the current unitary system of government, the destiny of the nation is controlled by politicians who come and go, and most of whom do not even know what to do.

"The House of Representatives decides money matters and what is left after the money is washed and laundered goes to patronage," he said.

He said he sees high hopes in the BBL to achieve peace in Mindanao.

"But if it fails, there is federalism as a fallback and if the rest of the country will not listen to us, hiwa-hiwalay na lang tayo," he said.

He said the conflict in Mindanao has claimed more than 100,000 lives and the island remains a "troubled land."

He said federalism can give the best and the brightest (of people) opportunities in government to prosper but not in a unitary system where the system is closed.

At the same time, he added the people want change but "it is not a change in people, but actually an institutional change."

He dismissed reports that he was interested in seeking the presidency, saying he no longer had the energy for governance.

"Divine intervention could point to anyone but that it is no longer my time," he said.

He said he had no ambition, only a vision of seeing this country go federal to attain the level of development Malaysia has achieved.

Duterte, 79,  a former assistant city prosecutor, has sat as OIC vice mayor of Davao City and has since been a 22-year mayor after that, in addition to having served for one term as a congressman.

Duterte has embarked on a tour of Philippine cities to espouse federalism as option for all Filipinos "to free themselves from an over-centralized rule presided over by politicians that come and go." with sources from RFABP and Baguio Midland Courier 

Manila Govt irritating Visayas – Mindanao Call Unity for Independence from Manila Government

An Online petition signed by some Visayan and Mindanaoan for a change

The Visayas and Mindanao Language and Culture

The majority Visayas and Mindanao Language and culture have been rejected by the manila Government and discrimination persist to these groups.

In spite of the majority spoken language by the whole country is Binisaya or also called Bisayan (Cebuano), the Manila government insisted that the national language must pattern to Tagalog as the language of the people in the capital.

People in the remote Visayas and Mindanao strive hard to understand Tagalog but always failed and finally give up to get involved in the Manila political discussion as it could not be understood by the majority Filipinos in the Visayas and Mindanao.

People from Visayas and Mindanao are always at the last priority in anyway. Job applicants from Visayas and Mindanao are less entertained compared to the people from the Katagalogan regions.

The discrimination of Visayans and Mindanaoan seems to be never ending which independence from the Manila Government is the best solution. An independence that doesn't need to be a separate country from the Philippines, a genuine independence that the discrimination will end, and independence that the majority Spoken language "Binisaya" could be recognized as official language for both Bisayans and Mindanaoans.

Huge amount of taxes from Visayas and Mindanao are also sip by manila Government for its own development and less prioritized the impoverished remote Visayas and Mindanao Islands. Independence of Visayas and Mindanao could be the solution to have an even development in these regions in par with what is in Manila now.

The root of Conflict

Manila government is so bold to intervene the Mindanaoan government in selective way.

Manila could easily jump in and intervene the governance of any part of Visayas and Mindanao for publicity but not heartily.

Until now the Maguindanao Massacre is not properly addressed. The victims are still hungry for justice but the Manila Government is picky to give justice for the victims.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) wants to focus on the Davao Death Squad (DDS) which victims are drug pushers and drug lords but could not focus on the Maguindanao Massacre which victims are innocent civilian and media people.

It is right that we must not put the justice in our hand but the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) must prioritize the case which victims and innocent civilians and good people. The move of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is seems to get in favor for giving justice firs for the sore of the society than the innocent people who are victims of the massacre.

Manila Government jump into how Davao governs its people but it could not jump into giving justice for the Maguidanao Massacre.

 Manila culture and Mindanao Culture is absolutely different and direct exposure is important for them to understand what Mindanao is.

What is the root of conflict in Mindanao by the way? Conflict begins when a person is in the state of hunger and could not find any sources of bread to feed the aching stomach. The root of all conflict in Mindanao is hunger, hardship in life, joblessness, and injustice.

As long as the Manila government could not address the needed development in Mindanao, as long as there is not justice, as long as there is no Job; the Iron hand is needed to guide the people.

Rights group finds reason to probe Davao killings

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said it had found a pattern of selective and systematic extrajudicial killings of 206 individuals accused or suspected of committing various offenses by a vigilante group in Davao City from 2005 to 2009.

CHR Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales presented the commission's findings on the activities of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) in a statement issued Wednesday.

The CHR faulted local officials for failing to conduct any meaningful investigation into the killings, thereby violating the state's obligation to protect the rights of its citizens.

It said the then city mayor, Rodrigo Duterte, as the local chief executive and deputized Napolcom representative with general and operational control and supervision over the city police force, had clearly disregarded information on alleged human rights violations in Davao City, and did not act on them.

Rosales asked the Office of the Ombudsman to look into Duterte's administrative and criminal liability for his inaction and for tolerating such violations in his jurisdiction.

"It is axiomatic in human rights law that where there are human rights violations, there must be accountability," Rosales said.

The CHR investigation was prompted by the search for accountability for the many lives taken arbitrarily by the DDS, a group allegedly responsible for summary executions of delinquents and drug traffickers in Davao.

Rosales said the number of persons killed could even be higher as the 206 figure was only based on what the CHR had in its records.

According to Rosales, dead bodies were piling up in Davao City during that period, consisting mainly of addicts, drug pushers, thieves and young people with police records for petty crimes. Many of the victims were minors.

Then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo established the Melo Commission to look into the killings. Official concern from the United Nations came with the visit of Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, who visited the country in February 2007.

In his report to the UN Human Rights Council in 2008, Alston observed that "it is a commonplace that a death squad known as the 'Davao Death Squad' (DDS) operates in Davao City. One fact points very strongly to the officially sanctioned character of these killings: No one involved covers his face."

The New York-based Human Rights Watch observed that the DDS "typically make greater efforts to conceal their weapons than their identity."

The CHR at the time, then headed by now Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, decided to conduct an investigation into the killings.

The CHR conducted public hearings in Davao City in March, April, May and September 2009.

According to Rosales, the CHR's investigation was hampered by a climate of fear gripping witnesses and by official denials from local government and law enforcement officials that the Davao Death Squad even existed.

Still, enough evidence emerged that there was a pattern in the victims targeted and in the methods of attack, she said.

"The killings were selective: The victim was usually involved or suspected to have been involved in some type of illegal activity. The manner of killing was also distinct: The assailants were usually motorcycle-riding gunmen," she said.

Freedom and Independence of the Visayas and Mindanao Islands

Visayas - Mindanao Independence Not in Hand of Moros but for the Majority People.

It has been several decades which the Manila government controlled the Islands of Visayas and Mindanao Politically but not the economy as it missed the Development Target for the Region because of Priority Development which focused in the Capital Manila.

A call for unity and independence in Visayas and Mindanao is over shadowed with fears and divided the people's vote because of the threat from the migrants Muslims from the islands of Borneo who are in thein the Island who want to dominate over the lumad and the majority Christian Populations in Mindanao.

For several years, Moro group called for the independence of Mindanao but gain only a very less support as their advocacy is over shadowed with crimes, land grabbing and killings of the civilians in the island.

 Recently a mask group of majority Christians and Lumad advocates starts drafting for the "Movement for Independence for Visayas and Mindanao from Manila Government for Peace and Development to attain the dreamed progress and development without Manila intervention to assert their right to freedom and independence as an expression of their right to self-determination..

Right of Self-determination

The right of self-determination is the collective right of peoples to determine their own future free of any outside interference or coercion. It is the right to choose the kind of political status the peoples want and to freely pursue their economic, social, spiritual and cultural development.

The United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights expressly provide that "All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development".

In the exercise of that right, the peoples have wide latitude of choice. At one end, they can demand and pursue within the nation state more political power, active participation in the decision making and administration of government affairs, equitable redistribution of economic benefits, and appropriate ways of preserving and protecting their culture and way of life. On the other end, they have also the right to organize their own sovereign and independent government, or reclaim their lost freedom and independence.

In pursuing that right to self-determination the Christian and Lumad Advocates are opting, as manifested both by the liberation movements and the civil society, for the restoration of their freedom and independence that they enjoyed for more than six centuries prior to the establishment of then country the Philippines in honor of the invader king of Spain.

Long History of Independence

The historical experience of the Mindanaoan people in statehood and governance started as early as 10 century under the Sultanate of Sulu which Mindanao, Sulu and North Borneo as part of this old Kingdom.

By the time the Spanish colonialists arrived in the Philippines the Muslims of Mindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi archipelago and the islands of Basilan and Palawan had already established their own states and governments with diplomatic and trade relations with other countries including China. Administrative and political systems based on the realities of the time existed in those states.

 For centuries the Spanish colonial government attempted to conquer the Sulu states to subjugate their political existence and to add the territory to the Spanish colonies in the Philippine Islands but history tells us that it never succeeded. The Mindanao states with their organized maritime forces and armies succeeded in defending the Sulu territories thus preserving the continuity of their independence.

That is why it is being argued, base on the logic that you cannot sell something you do not possess, that the Mindanao and Sulu territories are not part of what where ceded by Spain to the United States in the Treaty of Paris of 1898 because Spain had never exercise sovereignty over these areas.

The Mindanao resistance against attempts to subjugate their independence continued even when US forces occupied some areas in Mindanao and Sulu. At this time the resistance of the Sulu governments was not as fierce as during the Moro-Spanish wars but group- organized guerrilla attacks against American forces and installations reinforced what remained of the sultanates' military power. Even individual Sulu and Mindanaoan showed defiance against American occupation of their homeland by attacking American forces in operations called prang sabil (martyrdom operation).

Opposition to Annexation

When the United States government promised to grant independence to the Philippine Islands, the Mindanao and Sulu leaders registered their strong objection to be part of the Philippine republic. In the petition to the president of the United States dated June 9, 1921, the people of Sulu archipelago said that they would prefer being part of the United States rather than to be included in an independent Philippine nation.

In the Declaration of Rights and Purposes, the Sulu and Mindanao leaders meeting in Zamboanga on February 1, 1924, proposed that the "Islands of Mindanao and Sulu, and the Island of Palawan to the Spratly Islands be made an unorganized territory of the United States of America" in anticipation that in the event the US would decolorize its colonies and other non-self governing territories the Mindanao and Sulu homeland would be granted separate independence. Had it happened, the Mindanao and Sulu would have regained by now their independence under the UN declaration on decolonization.

Their other proposal was that if independence had to be granted including the Mindanao and Sulu territories, 50 years after Philippine independence a plebiscite be held in Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan to decide by vote whether the territory would be incorporated in the government of the Islands of Luzon and Visayas, remain a territory of the United States, or become independent. The 50-year period ended in 1996, the same year the MNLF and the Philippine government signed the Final Agreement on the Implementation of the Tripoli Agreement.

The leaders warned that if no provision of retention under the United States would be made, they would declare an independent constitutional sultanate to be known as Sulu and Mindanao Nation.

Gold prices feed fever on Philippine 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."

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