Killing NO. 83:
Mindanao (2nd Update) Blasts hit bus terminal in Koronadal; 1 dead
08/03/2007 | 05:50 PM
1 killed, 4 hurt in Koronadal bomb blasts
08/03/2007 | 09:19 PM
Two bombs ripped through a crowded bus terminal in the southern Philippines on Friday, killing at least one passenger and wounding four others, police said.
An improvised bomb left near the baggage of passengers waiting to board buses was the first to explode, followed shortly by a blast inside an already empty bus.
Police Senior Superintendent Roberto Kiunisala said the first blast killed a 31-year-old man and wounded at least four other people, while no one was hurt in the second explosion.
Kiunisala said the attack was believed linked to attempts by a criminal gang to extort money from the bus owners and is the third attack on the company since last month.
The first blast was on July 7 also in the same terminal in Koronadal, where one person was wounded. The second attack was inside an empty bus in the nearby town of Tacurong on July 18, which wounded three passers-by.
Friday's explosion badly damaged the bus and a nearby appliance store.
Kiunisala, South Cotabato police director, said the blasts happened at around 5:25 p.m. inside YBL's private terminal along General Santos Drive.
Kuinisala said the first blast happened at the waiting area of the terminal that was packed with people, and the second followed after a few minutes inside a bus that had just been cleared of passengers.
Radio station dzBB quoted YBL officials as saying the bus bore the body number 1951.
Kiunisala said the bus was totally burned, adding that explosives used were improvised devices.
"This is extortion again by the Al-Khobar Gang. This is the third bus unit they have attacked," said Kiunisala.
YBL seized national media attention following the separate bombings of its two units in Tacurong City and Koronadal City.
For decades, YBL, owned by the Yap family, has dominated the Davao-GenSan-Koronadal route with their more than 50 fleets operating daily. The firm employs more than 200 workers.
Its employees recently filed a notice for a strike before the Labor Department. - AP, GMANews.TV
DOJ’s Gonzalez in hospital battling bleeding from ulcer
08/03/2007 | 08:23 PM
(Updated 8:08 p.m.) Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez was rushed Friday to a still undisclosed private hospital in Metro Manila due to severe ulcer attack that usually eats into the blood vessels and the blood seeping into the digestive tract.
In a phone interview, Gonzalez declined to reveal the name of the hospital where he was confined but said he has been on medical leave since Wednesday.
"Dito lang ako sa tabi-tabi (I’m somewhere in Metro Manila)," the ailing secretary said in jest. Gonzalez, 76, has taken up residence in Valle Verde in Pasig City.
In a separate phone interview with GMA-7 reporter Joseph Morong, Gonzalez said he was brought to the hospital "umagang-umaga" (very early Friday morning).
Gonzalez also denied that he was brought to the intensive care unit of the hospital, but he expects to be discharged Saturday or before the end of the week.
"I got a bleeding ulcer. I feel heavy but I'm alright. I'm in bed," he said in a slightly groggy voice when asked how he was feeling. He said that his physicians did not recommend that he undergo any surgery to remove the ulcers.
What is bleeding ulcer?
Bleeding from ulcers or gastrointestinal hemorrhage occur in the stomach and duodenum, according to online medical dictionary. If the bleeding is heavy, people will feel tired and weak.
The disease is treated with several types of medicines including H2-blockers, acid pump inhibitors and mucosal protective agents. Patients could go under the knife if they fail to respond to medication or if they develop complications.
Asked if he thinks he would be ready to return to work by Monday, he said: "[Maybe], we'll see."
This is not the first time that Gonzalez has been taken to the hospital. After his trip to the hospital last April, he has started holding office at the Annex building of the DOJ instead of at the second floor.
Reporters are aware that Gonzalez has a kidney problem but he has consistently kept mum about details. "Basta kidney problem daw."
Recently, Morong said Gonzalez fell ill, "masama ang pakiramdam, nagsusuka. He said he didn't know he had ulcers."
Before assuming the post of Justice secretary in 2002, Gonzalez had reportedly undergone dialysis treatment.
The last time he was hospitalized, Gonzalez was taken to the Dr. Victor R. Potenciano Medical Center (formerly Polymedic Hospital) on EDSA in Mandaluyong City, where his wife is a stockholder. The hospital is a short distance away from the Gonzalezes' home in Valle Verde.
Morong said that from the tone of his voice on Friday, Gonzalez seemed to be just mildly ill. "The sarcasm is still there." In prior illness episodes, Gonzalez had been observed to have turned serious and humorless.
Radio dzBB station said it also got in touch with Gonzalez himself through a cell phone interview, although the secretary withheld details of his medical condition.
He said he is optimistic that he would be out of the hospital either today (Friday) or Saturday. - GMANews.TV
49 US solons urge Arroyo to act vs killings, rights abuses
Worry US aid used to violate human rights
By Veronica Uy
Last updated 06:36pm (Mla time) 08/03/2007
MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE) Saying “the well-documented violence that continues with impunity must be ended,” 49 members of the US House of Representatives have written President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo urging “strong and immediate leadership” to end extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses.
“Since the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines continue unabated, and given the fact that there are many unanswered questions about the role of the Philippine government and military in these deaths, we respectfully request your strong and immediate leadership in investigating and prosecuting those individuals and/or groups, including those in the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] and PNP [Philippine National Police], responsible for these killings, and in eliminating the underlying causes of the violence,” the bipartisan letter, dated August 1, said.
The solons also worried that US aid to the Philippine military and police is being used to commit the killings, which human rights groups estimate have claimed the lives of more than 800 people -- mostly left-wing activists -- since Arroyo came to power in 2001, and other human rights violations as part of the government’s counterinsurgency program.
“We are very concerned that the extrajudicial killings could be a conscious and systematic part of the Philippine government’s counterinsurgency program and that financial assistance from our government is being used to support, directly or indirectly, those within the PNP and AFP who are responsible for the killings,” they said.
Noting that “the AFP and PNP receive a significant amount of aid from the United States to assist in training and professionalizing the Philippine security forces, to combat terrorist groups, and to upgrade military equipment and hardware,” they said “the numerous reports that our and other congressional offices receive indicate the need for our close monitoring of this situation, particularly regarding the alleged use of US assistance to implement the abductions and killings.”
The letter was initiated by Representatives James L. Oberstar (Democrat-Minnesota) and Joseph R. Pitts (Republican-Pennsylvania) and its signatories included the following chairman of House committees and bodies: Tom Lantos (Democrat-California), Committee on Foreign Affairs; David Obey (Democrat-Wisconsin), Ways and Means Committee; John Lewis (Democrat-Georgia), Oversight Subcommittee; and Mike Honda (Democrat-California), Asian-Pacific American Caucus.
The letter is just the latest in a series of actions by the US Congress to pressure the Philippine government to stop the extrajudicial killings.
Last March, the US Congress held a number of hearings on the issue and invited Filipino activists and church leaders to testify. After that, it included in the Foreign Operations Bill a provision specifying that US military aid to the Philippines cannot be used against Filipino civilians.
“As you may know, there is increasing evidence from well-regarded human rights organizations, including the Melo Commission created by your government, which indicates the involvement of personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP)” in the killings, the solons’ letter told Arroyo.
Amnesty International and the United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston have reported similar findings.
According to Philippine-based human rights group Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights), since Arroyo became president in 2001 until May 15 this year, there have been 863 extrajudicial executions (including 51 journalists) and 196 abductions.
The Philippines is the largest recipient of US military aid in Asia. This year, the US State Department proposed a total of $11 billion of military aid to the Philippines; this amount has been raised to $30 billion by the US Congress. The bill containing this proposal has not yet been enacted into law.
Described by Oberstar as “a sincere communication between the two governments” intended to elicit a positive response from the Philippine government, the US legislators’ letter aired deep concerns over a “growing environment of impunity” in the Philippines.
“The killing of civilians who are peacefully exercising their lawful right in a democratic society to express dissent is a gross violation of universally recognized human rights and international law,” it said.
The lawmakers also cited the May 27 abduction of Pastor Berlin Guerrero, who was allegedly beaten by the abductors until he gave them the names of his family, parishioners, friends, and the password to his computer. The abductors reportedly then replaced Guerrero’s computer documents with incriminating documentation connecting Guerrero to the underground left.
Guerrero remains detained by the Cavite provincial police.
Reports received by US congressional offices say Guerrero had been tortured while reports from the United Church of Christ in the Philippines said the PNP has pointed to Philippine Navy intelligence units as the ones responsible for the pastor’s abduction.
In reaction, the US-based Ecumenical Advocacy Network on the Philippines said the Congressional letter represents a growing awareness of US policymakers about the six-year surge of violence against progressive leaders in Philippine civil society.
“But more needs to be done to ensure that US dollars are not supporting security forces in violation of US law,” it said.
The Ecumenical Advocacy Network represents a coalition of American and Filipino-American church leaders and human rights advocates throughout the United States, lobbying against human rights violations in the Philippines.
The 49 US lawmakers who signed the letter to Arroyo are:
Brian Baird (Democrat-Washington), Tammy Baldwin (Democrat-Wisconsin), Howard Berman (Democrat-California), Dan Burton (Republican-Indiana), Julia Carson (Democrat-Indiana), Rosa DeLauro (Democrat-Connecticut), Keith Ellison (Democrat-Minnesota), Phil English (Republican-Pennsylvania), Sam Farr (Democrat-California), Chaka Fattah (Democrat-Pennsylvania),
Trent Franks (Democrat-Massachusetts), Raul Grijalva (Democrat-Arizona), Luis Gutierrez (Democrat-Illinois), Maurice Hinchey (Democrat-New York), Mike Honda (Democrat-California), Jesse Jackson (Democrat-Illinois), Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (Democrat-Michigan), Mark-Steven Kirk (Republican-Illinois), Dennis Kucinich (Democrat-Ohio), Tom Lantos (Democrat-California),
Rick Larsen (Democrat-Washington), Barbara Lee (Democrat-California), John Lewis (Democrat-Georgia), David Loebsack (Democrat-Iowa) , Zoe Lofgren (Democrat-California), Doris Matsui (Democrat-California), Betty McCollum (Democrat-Minnesota), Jim McDermott (Democrat-Washington), James McGovern (Democrat-Massachusetts), Jerry McNerney (Democrat-California),
Mike McNulty (Democrat-New York), Jerry Moran (Republican-Kansas), James Oberstar (Democrat-Minnesota), David Obey (Democrat-Wisconsin), Donald Payne (Democrat-New Jersey), Collin Peterson (Democrat-Minnesota), Joe Pitts (Republican-Pennsylvania), David Price (Democrat-North Carolina), Jim Ramstad (Republican, Minnesota), Steven Rothman (Democrat-New Jersey),
Bobby Rush (Democrat-Illinois), Jan Schakowsky (Democrat-Illinois), Adam Smith (Democrat-Washington), Fortney Stark (Democrat-California), Ellen Tauscher (Democrat-California), Lee Terry (Republican-Nebraska), John Tierney (Democrat-Massachusetts), Tim Walz (Democrat-Minnesota), and Frank Wolf (Republican-Virginia).
Originally posted at 05:54 pm