Bisaya Bloggers » Gov. Sakur Tan

Jan 25 2008

Retiring RP Military Chief May Be Extended, Gets Strong Supports In Mindanao

Philippine military chief General Hermogenes Esperon answers questions from journalists Friday, January 25, 2008 in Zamboanga City after inspecting troops in Basilan and Sulu provinces. Troops in the southern Philippines and Sulu provincial officials led by Governor Sakur Tan have expressed strong support on proposals to extend Esperon’s term. A veteran army commander in Mindanao, Esperon is due to retire on February 9, 2008 at age 56. Governor Tan and his mayors have passed a joint resolution Friday urging President Arroyo to extend Esperon’s term so he can continue his programs and reform in the military. (Mindanao Examiner Photo/Arthur Abasolo)

AMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 25, 2008) – Government soldiers deployed in Mindanao have expressed support to the possible extension of the term of Philippine military chief General Hermogenes Esperon.

Esperon, a veteran army commander in Mindanao, is set to retire on February 9 at age 56, but government sources said President Gloria Arroyo is likely to extend his term so he can continue his programs and reforms in the military.

Arroyo is in Switzerland since Tuesday for a series of meetings with the officials of the Aragon Financial Group (AFG) and the Swiss Chamber of Commerce. The AFG could help the Philippines in its policy to ensure continuous and adequate supply of energy through integrated and intensive exploration, production, management and development of the country’s indigenous energy resources such as oil and natural gas.

The President may announce Esperon’s extension when she returns to Manila, sources said on Friday. It is unknown how long Esperon would be extended.

Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Alexander Yano is said to be the next AFP Chief-of-Staff.

“The soldiers are in favor of the continuation of General (Hermogenes) Esperon as CSAFP (Chief-of-Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines). We have our reasons in supporting him and we believe in his able leadership and capacity as our Chief-of-Staff.”

“We want him to continue implementing reforms and programs for the AFP and the soldiers,” an army platoon leader, who gave his name only as “Dela Cruz,” told the Mindanao Examiner.

Sulu provincial officials are also supporting the extension of Esperon’s term. “General Esperon has done a very a good job and as you know he is one of the proponent of many AFP-related humanitarian program in Sulu. We are very supportive of General Esperon and will support his extension as Chief-of-Staff,” Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan told reporters.

He said business and religious leaders and the mayors in Sulu are also supporting Esperon’s possible extension. “We have a relatively good peace and order condition in Sulu because of AFP and other stakeholders of peace. The AFP is our partner in peace and progress and we are the government’s partner in nation building,” Tan said.

Tan has previously hailed Esperon for creation of the National Development Command, a new unit in the AFP that especially focus on the basic socio-economic development and infrastructure projects in conflict-affected areas.

Through the NDC, the AFP hopes to contribute in the convergence of efforts by the different line agencies of government in the repair and construction of schools, health centers, sources of potable water, roads and bridges and in the process rebuild lives that have been disrupted by terrorist activities and violence.

Radio reports on Friday quoted Esperon as saying: “Di ko alam kung magkakaroon ng announcement. But kung magkaganoon man, tulad ng sinasabi ko, I’d be very honored to serve for some more time kung gaano katagal ibibigay sa atin na extension lalong lalo na, kailangan nating pursue ang ating momentum nagawa natin against the New People’s Army and Abu Sayyaf terrorists.”

(I don’t know if there will be an announcement (by the President), but if there will be as I have said, I would be very honored to serve for some more time. We need to pursue the momentum (of what we have already achieved) against the New People’s Army and the Abu Sayyaf terrorists.)

Esperon on Friday inspected troops in Sulu and Basilan provinces and Zamboanga City as part of his farewell visit in southern Philippines, where he started his military career.

In Zamboanga City, Esperon expressed gratitude to Tan and the mayors in Sulu and said the locals are supportive of AFP efforts in the province. “I would take it (support of Sulu provincial officials) as their oneness to the Armed Forces of the Philippines because of the sacrifices of our soldiers in the province.”

“We brought a lot of changes in Sulu, from how it was in the past years. I take that as a compliment and I would like to take that as recognition of the efforts of the Armed Forces in Sulu. I have always said that any extension must reflect on the kind of operations that our men in the field are doing,” he said in a press conference.

Jan 21 2008

Sulu Launches Own ID System

Governor Sakur Tan distributes ID to villagers in Sulu province in southern RP. Gov. Sakur Tan says the ID system will help deter crimes and terrorism in the province. Patikul town Mayor Kabir Hayudini also shows reporters his ID. (Mindanao Examiner Photos/Nickee Butlangan and Arthur Abasolo)

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 21, 2008) – Sulu province in the southern Philippines has launched its own citizen identification system aimed at curbing crimes and deter terrorism and served as a database for local census, officials said Monday.

Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan said the provincial ID system was launched over the weekend in the town of Patikul, whose population now is more than 50,000. “We are going to issue identification cards in all towns and we have the support of the local government officials and the citizens themselves,” Tan told the Mindanao Examiner.

Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao, has 19 towns – Hadji Panglima Tahil, Indanan, Jolo, Kalingalang Caluang, Lugus, Luuk, Maimbung, Panamao, Omar, Pandami, Panglima Estino, Pangutaran, Parang, Pata, Siasi, Talipao, Tapul and Tongkil.

Patikul Mayor Kabir Hayudini said his town will serve as a model for the implementation of the citizen identification card in other areas in the province, about 950 kilometers south of Manila.

“The people are really very supportive of the ID system and that’s why we have Patikul as model for this citizen identification card system in cooperation with the Sulu provincial government, the military and police authorities and the national census (office),” Hayudini told reporters, adding, that those covered by the ID system are citizens 12 years old above.

Tan said the provincial government shouldered all expenses needed for the ID system.

“The identification card system in Sulu province is a collaborative effort between local governments, the Armed Forces (of the Philippines), the Philippine National Police and other stake holders of peace and development in the province.”

“The ID system will deter crimes and prevent terrorism because it would be easy to identify those who are not from Sulu and this will protect the citizens. It will also be beneficial for business and other transactions,” he said.

Tan said the local ID system is not part of the proposed national ID system.

“This is our initiative and while politicians and other groups in Manila argue about the national ID system, my province is already implementing our own citizen identification card system. This will also establish an accurate census in Sulu,” he said.

A census is an enumeration of all the people of a village or a systematic and complete count of all who are living in specified places.

The local ID system includes a photo of the holder and the following information — the date and place of birth, civil status, blood type, age, address, thumb prints and sex among others.

Provincial mayors and Muslim religious leaders and business groups lauded the ID system in Sulu province.

The launching of the ID system in Sulu coincided with the closing of the two-day peace caravan joined by thousands of Muslims.

The caravan was a collaborative effort of government agencies and various non-government agencies to address the immediate health, education and livelihood needs of communities affected by conflict.

Tan said the caravan, which began on Friday in the town of Jolo went around Patikul and Kalingalang Caluang towns, scene of previous clashes between rebels and soldiers.

He said the caravan was also aimed at consulting with the communities on their medium and long term concerns particularly on livelihood and employment aspect as well as provides a humanitarian face to the ongoing conflict in Sulu.

He said the caravan provided several millions of pesos in aids to support peace and development in Sulu. The Department of Education also pledged to send at least 15 tons of assorted books to different government schools in the province, Tan said.

Tan also released buffaloes for local farmers and led government officials in medical and dental missions in far-flung villages in Luuk and Patikul town during the caravan.

Jan 17 2008

Education As A Continuous Process And Enhancer Of Opportunities

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 17, 2008) — As the saying goes, «education is a continuous process,” thus, re-tooling, re-inventing and re-engineering are some of the few words used to describe the activities and events undertaken by an organization to impart education to its target clients.

Just recently, the proposal of Sulu Governor Sakur Tan to send ulama in Malaysia and Saudi Arabia to enhance their knowledge in the area of the shari’a law, philosophy, dialectical theology of Quoranic hermeneutics as part of a local education program through exposure is a case in point of education as a continuous process.

Similarly, the Department of Education has embarked on ‘EXCELS’ scholarship program for 1,600 public elementary and secondary school heads, nationwide, from November 2007 to July 2008 with the goal in mind to «continue the education process» especially to institutionalized sectors mandated to educate people. Here in Region-9, the program is set on February 27 to March 26 through iFLEX (or INNOTECH Flexible Learning Management System).

Experience, as best teacher pointed out to DepEd Sec. Jesli Lapuz that chunk of expenses were utilized for official travel than in directly teaching the marginal poor school children.

This experience resulted to the order of Sec. Lapuz for the adoption of measures and guidelines to cut travel cost. At the same time, DepEd’s Bureau of Alternative Learning System (DepEd-BALS) called on all regional directors to be prompt in releasing the salary and other financial incentives of at least 1,381mobile teachers. A lesson learned that could be taken for granted is: «Give due credit to where it is due. After all, the mobile teachers are the ones deployed to deprived, depressed and underserved areas in the country to do alternative education to reach out all kinds of learners.’

Remarkably, the concerted efforts of DepEd-9, and the LGUs resulted in the improvement of the elementary school children in the National Aptitude Test (NAT), placing it this year at the 6th place from its 11th rank in 2004.

Finally, the continuous education process is also evident in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas system as it re-invents itself to push for the financial literacy campaign for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), teaching them how to use their hard-earned money wisely.

BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Gunigundo said they are going around the country to educate the families of OFWs on the facets of entrepreneurship and investing in different financial institutions, conducting lectures for them to become investors rather than mere consumers, so much so that the peso continues to appreciate against the dollar, short-changing the value of their remittances due to the lowering of foreign exchange rates.

Exposure trips, scholarships, virtue-laden living or paradigm shift of homemakers to entrepreneurship are proofs that education is as incessant as breathing.

The Arroyo Administration, cognizance of this continuous process of educating its citizens called on both chambers of Congress to immediately pass the proposed P1.227-trillion national budget for 2008 to avoid delay in the implementation of the government’s priority projects and programs, with a budget allocation for education topping the list at P3.320 billion. (Philippine Information Agency/Mimi Edaga)

Jan 12 2008

Sulu To Send Muslim Clerics, Students Leaders On Education Tour In Malaysia, Saudi

Sulu Governor Sakur Tan prays with other Muslims in Patikul town. Tan says he will send student leaders and Muslim clerics on educational tours in Malaysia and Saudi Arabia as part of a local government program aimed at enhancing their knowledge on Islam and Shari’a law. (Mindanao Examiner Photos/Nickee Butlangan and Mark Navales)

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 12, 2008) — Muslim clerics in the southern Philippine province of Sulu hailed a proposal to send selected clergies in other Muslim and Arab countries as part of a local education program.

Sulu Governor Sakur Tan, the proponent of the program, said sending ulama in countries like Malaysia and Saudi Arabia will further enhance their knowledge of the shari’a law, including philosophy, dialectical theology or Quoranic hermeneutics.

Usually, the fields studied and the importance given them will vary from tradition to tradition, or even from seminary to seminary.

“We will send the ulama to an education trip to further expose them and enhance more their knowledge of Islam, the shari’a and other fields,” Tan, himself a religious man, told the Mindanao Examiner.

The ulama in most nations consider themselves to represent the ijma (consensus) of the Ummah (community of Muslims) or to represent at least the scholarly or learned consensus. Many efforts to modernize Islam focus on the reintroduction of ijtihad and empowerment of the Ummah to form their own ijma.

In a broader sense, the term ulama is used to describe the body of Muslim clergy who have completed several years of training and study of Islamic sciences, such as a mufti, qadi, faqih or muhaddith.

Aside from the ulama, Tan said he will also send dozens of Muslim high school and college student leaders in Malaysia for an education tour where they would visit different schools and meet with other student leaders.

“The tour will give our students an opportunity to see and observe the educational system in Malaysia and mingle with Malaysian students and we can even propose or start an exchange program between Sulu and Malaysian students,” Tan said.

Education in Malaysia broadly consists of a set of stages which are Pre-school, Primary Education, Secondary Education, Tertiary Education and postgraduate studies. In 2003, Malaysia introduced the use of English as a medium of teaching in all science subjects.

Tan said the Sulu provincial government will spend for both the ulama and students education program which will begin this year.

“This is good and we long wanted to travel to other Muslim or Arab nations and observe the implementation of their respective shari’a law and other Islamic scholarly issues,” one Muslim cleric, who identified himself only as Ustadz Mohammad, said.

Tan, a known philanthropist in the southern Philippines, urged students to excel in their academics and pursue their goals so they can be a responsible citizen and future leaders of the province.

“Education is very important and only through education that we can help not only our family, but the government as well by becoming more responsible and a partner in nation building,” Tan, a former congressman, said. (With reports from Nickee Butlangan and Mark Navales)

Dec 29 2007

US Troops Losing War For Hearts And Minds In Sulu

SULU ISLAND, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 29, 2007) – Philippine authorities have began an investigation into disturbing reports that US troops deployed in Sulu province had ordered the closure of a government hospital in the town of Panamao.

The soldiers allegedly barged into the Panamao District Hospital on Dec. 3 and ordered its closure for a still unknown reason.

US troops are in Sulu province since early this year to assist and advice Filipino forces in fighting terrorism.

Dr Silak Lakkian, head of the hospital, has complained about how US troops meddled into their operations.

The news only broke out Saturday after local journalists learned about the incident, but US military officials were not available to make any statement.

Sulu Governor Sakur Tan said he will personally on the reports involving US troops and has talked to Major General Reuben Rafael, commander of Philippine military forces in the province, about it.

“US troops have no authority to impose on us,” he said.

It was not immediately known whether the US military tried to cover up the incident, but General Rafael, also said that he will look into the reports. “We will look into this,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.

Local villagers and some Filipino troops also have complained about the arrogance of US soldiers in Sulu. Some US troops have allegedly treated Filipino soldiers like janitors and laborers in the province.

Heavily-armed US troops were also preventing curious Muslim villagers to go near them in public places as though the locals were terrorists.

American troops had in the past also harassed Filipino journalists who were covering joint RP-US military war games in Zamboanga City and Sulu and in some occasions arrested and seized the cameras of reporters who took photos and videos of them.

It was also in Sulu that hundreds of US soldiers slaughtered some 800 Muslim villagers, including innocent women and children, during the Moro rebellion in March 1906 that has become known as the First Battle of Bud (Mount) Dajo also called the “Moro Crater Massacre.”

During this battle, 790 men and officers, under the command of Colonel J.W. Duncan, assaulted the volcanic crater, which was held by several hundred rebels protecting Muslim villagers.

Dec 12 2007

Philippine Congress Doubles Subsidy For Islamic Schools

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 12, 2007) – Sulu provincial Governor Sakur Tan lauded the Philippine Congress for doubling the allocation for the government’s Basic Education Madrasah Program.

The increase in funding will enable the government to train additional teachers in English, Arabic and Islam, develop new instructional materials, and rigorously monitor the performance of a new standard, Cebu Representative Eduardo Gullas said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.He said the Basic Education Madrasah Program seeks to lift to the national average the learning level of Filipino-Muslim school children. Madrasah is Arabic term for school.“We welcome this development and surely this will be a big help in the Madrasah program,” Tan told the Mindanao Examiner.Sulu in the southern Philippines is one of five provinces under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.The Department of Education (DepEd) is specifically targeting the training of 2,668 teachers as well as the production and distribution of 800,400 new textbooks to reinforce the Basic Education Madrasah Program, according to Gullas.The textbooks set for distribution next year is 50 percent more than the manuals being distributed this year, Gullas said.Government-subsidized Islamic schools offer the standard public school curriculum as well as Arabic literacy and Islamic religious subjects.Without counting the schools in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, DepEd currently has 459 public schools nationwide implementing the Basic Education Madrasah Program.Gullas said the fresh funding for Islamic schools would give more meaning to the Constitutional mandate for the State «to establish, maintain and support a complete, adequate and integrated system of education relevant to the needs of the people and society.»A report by the DepEd earlier warned that decades of neglect have made tens of thousands of Muslim out-of-school youth (OSY) in Metro Manila and other urban districts susceptible to recruitment by both Islamic extremists and criminal elements.Many of the Muslim OSY are products of extreme poverty and the lingering armed conflict in Mindanao, the report said.

To address the problem, DepEd has been building up the Basic Education Madrasah Program as well as the Alternative Learning Program for Muslim OSY.

Nov 11 2007

Sulu, Nagpasalamat Sa Saudi

SULU (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 11, 2007) – Ipinatawag kahapon ni Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan ang mga opisyal nito upang pagusapan ang project proposals na isusumite nito sa Saudi Arabia matapos na mangako itong magbubuhos ng tulong sa lalawigan.

Natuwa naman ang maraming mga alkalde ng Sulu at Provincial Board sa naging matagumpay ng pakikipagusap ni Tan sa mga opisyal ng Saudi Embassy ng ito ay anyayahan doon nuong nakaraang lingo.

Kahapon ay agad naman bumalik si Tan sa Sulu upang paghandaan ang pagpasok ng tulong ng Saudi sa lalawigan.

“Malaki ang pasasalamat naming sa Saudi Arabia dahil sa pangakong tulong para sa Sulu at siguradong maraming mga mamamayan ang makikinabang sa mabuting hangarin ng Saudi,” ani Tan sa Mindanao Examiner.

Magbubuhos umano ng malaking tulong ang Saudi Arabia sa upang suportahan ang peace and development efforts sa lalawigan ng Sulu, ayon pa sa Gobernador.

Mismong si Saudi Ambassador Mohammed Ameen Wali ang nangakong tutulong at balak naman imbitahin. «Saudi is very supportive of our peace and development efforts and we are now preparing several project proposals that will help alleviate the situation of the poor in Sulu.»

“The support of Saudi Arabia (to Sulu) will surely bring peace and development and livelihood worthy of human dignity. We are launching our own jihad towards the attainment of peace and unity. Other forms of jihad, particularly violent jihad, is primitive,» ani Tan.

Noon ay lumagda rin ang Saudi Arabia ng US$20 million loan agreement para sa development ng Mindanao roads project. Bahagi ito ng US$100 million loan agreement financing was sourced from the US$100 sa ilalim ng Saudi Fund for Development (SDF). (Mindanao Examiner)

Nov 09 2007

Saudi Pledges Support To Peace And Development In Sulu

Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan and Vice Gov. Lady Ann Sahidula during a recent program in Sulu province. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 09, 2007) – Saudi Arabia has pledged to support peace and development projects in the largely Muslim province of Sulu in southern Philippines.

Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan said they are preparing several proposals for infrastructure and other development projects after Saudi Ambassador to Manila, Mohammed Ameen Wali, assured him of his country’s support.

“Saudi is very supportive of our peace and development efforts and we are now preparing several project proposals that will help alleviate the situation of the poor in Sulu,” Tan told reporters.

Saudi Embassy also donated five cases of preserved dates which would be distributed to the poor and victims of a recent fire in Sulu province, said Tan, who met with Wali in Manila this week.

Saudi’s support to Sulu, Tan said, would help alleviate the situation of many poor people in the province and can even provide them livelihood through various anti-poverty programs.

“The support of Saudi Arabia (to Sulu) will surely bring peace and development and livelihood worthy of human dignity. We are launching our own jihad towards the attainment of peace and unity. Other forms of jihad, particularly violent jihad is primitive,” Tan said.

Saudi Arabia previously signed a US$20 million loan agreement for the development of Mindanao roads project. The loan agreement financing was sourced from the US$100 million pledge under the Saudi Fund for Development (SDF).

Saudi Arabia, an influential member of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), is also supporting the peace process in the southern Philippines. It will also host a three-day Tripartite Meeting between the OIC, the Philippines and the former rebel group, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), starting Saturday in Jeddah.

Tan said the meeting will discuss the implementation of the 1996 peace accord between Manila and the MNLF headed by its jailed chieftain Nur Misuari regarding the situation in the southern Philippines.

Misuari is facing rebellion charges after his forces tried, but failed to overrun a military base on the island in 2000. Misuari, disgusted with the peace agreement, fled to Malaysia, but was arrested there and later deported to Manila.

He accused Manila of reneging in the peace deal and for failing to uplift the poor living standards of many Muslims in the South. Under the agreement, the Philippines is to provide a mini-marshal plan and housing and livelihood to tens of thousands of former rebels.

Philippine authorities have allowed Misuari to attend the tripartite meeting, Tan said.

Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, OIC Secretary General, has welcomed Manila’s decision to allow Misuari to participate in the meeting. OIC had sent a high-level delegation to the southern Philippines to assess the volatile situation last year.

The opening of the tripartite conference will be preceded by an expanded meeting of the Indonesia-led Committee of Eight, in-charge of southern Philippines.

Sporadic fighting between Filipino troops and MNLF forces still continue in many areas in southern Philippines, despite the peace deal. MNLF rebels signed the deal with Manila, but the government allowed them to keep their huge inventory of high-power weapons, mostly automatic rifles, anti-tank rockets and machine guns. They later accused the Arroyo government of failing to comply with the accord.

Former rebels also seized a delegation of senior military officials in Sulu earlier this year after reports of a scheduled tripartite meeting on Feb. 6-8 in Jeddah had been shelved off by the Arroyo government.

The hostages were later freed after the Philippine government agreed to proceed with the tripartite conference. The gunmen also demanded Manila to free Misuari so he can lead the MNLF to the meeting. (Mindanao Examiner)

Oct 09 2007

Sulu Province – The Land Of Treasures

A diver examines his scuba gear at Ramos beach in Panglima Tahil town in Sulu province in southern Philippines. (Photo courtesy of Sulu Provincial Tourism Council)

SULU, Philippines — Far-flung Sulu is the southernmost part of the Philippines, lying between the Sulu Sea on the north and the Celebes Sea on the south. With fishing as its most important industry, it is classified as a First Class Province in terms of income.

The glorious Sulu Sea is dotted with coral reefs, such as the pearl farm at Marungas Island, and provides some of the world’s best dive spots. Tubbataha Reef is its best known site, a 33,200-hectare underwater splendor drawing divers from all over the world with its marvelous marine wilderness and special ecosystem.

Because of its fabulous beauty, the Tubbataha Reef Marine Park was honored by UNESCO in December 1993 as the first natural site in the Philippines to be inscribed in the prestigious World Heritage List.

It is the best known site in the Sulu Sea, drawing divers from all over the world with its underwater splendor and the rich marine life that abounds in the reef. Snappers, sweet-lips, groupers, angel fish, and morays can be found amid huge fan corals and sponges.

Large schools of barracudas, jacks, rainbow runners, and surgeons pass by while tunas race about.

The Sulu provincial capital is Jolo town. Its walled city is the smallest in the world, with its historic brick walls that lay proof to the city’s historic past.

Another attraction of the city is the Provincial Capitol with its moorish-inspired architectural design.

The province nurtures a harmonious coexistence of the two most dominant religions in the Philippines, Islam and Catholicism. There are beautiful Muslim mosques situated in each village, most notable being the majestic Tulay Mosque which now towers the Sulu skyline.

The existing churches of Christian faith in the province are the Jolo Parish Church, Sacred Heart of Jesus Chapel, and Jolo Evangelical Church.


Sulu consists of over 400 scattered and almost isolated islands, stretching from the tip of Zamboanga southwestward towards Borneo.

It forms one of the three connections of the Philippines with Sabah. Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan is planning to convert some of these islands into world-class resorts because of their pristine and white sand beaches to help promote tourism.


Sulu is outside of the typhoon belt. Its climate is warm. Humidity is generally moist, but precipitation is constant throughout the year. February is considered the coldest month while May to August are the hottest, with mean relative humidity of 86%, one of the hottest in the country.

January to April is considered the dry period, with a monthly average of 7 to 9 inches of rainfall. The mean annual temperature is 26 degrees centigrade and the maximum is 27 degrees centigrade.

Language and Dialect

The principal dialect of the natives of Sulu is Tausug. The rest speak Samal and other dialects such as Visayan, Chavacano and Tagalog. English is widely spoken in Sulu.

Major Industries

While there is an absence of huge mineral deposits, Sulu nevertheless abounds in marine and timber resources and is believed rich in fossil fuel. Lying outside the typhoon belt, it is blessed with a year-round bounty from both land and sea.

Due to the character of the soil and climate, the province of Sulu grows a greater variety of products than any other part of the country. In addition to all the crops of the islands, which are abaca, coconut, and fruits like oranges, lanzones, and jacks, other fruits that do not grow in the northern islands are harvested here, such as the mangosteen berries and durian.

In September, some six tons of mangosteen and durian were shipped out to supermarkets in Manila and the fruits were completely sold out in hours. The shipment, Sulu Gov. Tan says, is part of the Fruits for Hope program. The international non-government organization, the Asia-American Initiative and Filipino Senator Richard Gordon also helped in the Fruit for Hope program.

Fishing is the most important industry. Sea turtles and fish of all kinds are caught. Otherwise the people engage in the industries of boat building, mat weaving, coffee processing, and fruit preservation (durian and mangosteen).

Trepang and pearls are extensively gathered in Sulu. Trepang, also called bêche-de-mer, is a sea cucumber of the genus Holothuria of the southern Pacific and Indian oceans, and is often dried or smoked for use as an ingredient in soup, especially in China and Indonesia. (Department of Tourism/Sulu Provincial Tourism Council)

Sep 28 2007

NHA namahagi ng certificates sa Sulu

Ipinapakita ni Sitti Radzma Jadjuli ang kanyang certificate of payment mula sa National Housing Authority bilang katunayan na siya ang nagmamay-ari ng kapirasong lupain sa bayan ng Indanan sa Sulu. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

SULU (Mindanao Examiner / 28 Sept) – Halos 200 pamilya ang nabigyan ng kanilang mga certificates mula sa National Housing Authority matapos na mabayaraan ang mga lupaing kinatitirikan ng kanilang mga bahay sa bayan ng Indanan nitong lalawigan.

Hindi naman maitago ng mga pamilya ang kanilang kagalakan at pasasalamat sa NHA at pamahalaan. Kamakailan ay ginanap ang awarding ng mga certificates sa Indanan na kung saan ay pinanguhanan nina Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan at alkalde ng bayan na si Alvarez Isnaji.

Hinimok naman ni Tan ang mga may-ari ng lupa na lalong magsumikap para sa kinabukasan ng kanilang pamilya. Doon ay sinabi rin ng gobernador ang mga magagandang plano nito sa lalawigan upang maisulong ang patuloy na pag-unlad ng Sulu.

Kasama nina Tan at Isnaji ay mga ibat-ibang opisyal ng naturang bayan at lalawigan, gayun si Engr. Al-Khwarizmi Indanan, ang district manager ng NHA sa Basilan, Sulu at Tawi-Tawi.

Kabilang sa mga opisyal ay sina Hussin Ahajan, ang bise-alkalde ng Indanan, Abdullah Hayudini, isa sa mga Barangay chairman sa nasabing bayan; Abdulpatta Saddarani, mula sa tanggapan ni Rep. Yusop Jikiri; at Hector Buclao, miyembro ng Sanguniang Panlalawigan.

“Nagpapasalamat talaga ako sa lahat ng mga opisyal ay nabigyan na rin kami ng certificate na magpapatunay na kami ay may-ari ng lupain. Malaking tulong ito sa kinabukasan ng mga bata,” ani pa ni Sitti Radzma Jadjuli, isa sa mga nabigyan ng certificate. (Mindanao Examiner)

Sep 27 2007

US, RP Move Supplies, Infra Equipment In Sulu

A US convoy transporting supplies and equipment for infrastructure passes Thursday 27 Sept, 2007 through a village in Indanan town in Sulu province in southern Philippines. Washington has poured $3.7 million in development projects in Sulu to help in Manila’s peace efforts. Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan said the money will be used for the repair of the Jolo airport and the putting up of a potable water system in the province. Last month, the US signed a $190 million grant aid for various infrastructure projects in Mindanao island. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

SULU ISLAND, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 27 Sept) – US and Filipino soldiers deployed in Sulu have began moving supplies and equipment for infrastructure projects on Thursday as more countries pledged to help develop the southern Philippine province.

The soldiers were spotted passing in the town of Indanan in several trucks and jeeps transporting equipment to the delight of the locals. “We have projects to do here…for the people,” one Filipino soldier yelled as their truck headed to Indanan.

Hundreds of US troops are stationed in Sulu and helping Filipino soldiers carry out humanitarian missions on the request of the Philippine government. The US is also training local troops in anti-terrorism warfare.

Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan said some countries, including Syria, have expressed to help in peace and development projects in the province.

“We welcome all assistance and aid from donor countries and international nongovernmental organizations to promote peace and development in the region,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.

Tan did not say what other countries have pledged to help Sulu, but on Monday the United States and Britain unveiled a huge package of development projects in the province in an effort to help Manila bring peace and progress in the region.

Ambassadors Kristie Kenney, of the United States, and Peter Beckingham, of the British Embassy, arrived in Jolo town and announced a $3 million funding for the repair of the local airport and the installation of a $700,000 potable water system in Sulu.

Tan said the US and British projects will help a lot of people in Sulu, one of five provinces under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

It was on top of the $190 million development and economic growth agreement the US signed last week to help fund other projects in Mindanao. (Mindanao Examiner)

Sep 25 2007

9 Injured In Sulu Fire

Sulu Gov. Salur Tan inspects Tuesday Sept. 25, 2007 the aftermath of the fire in Jolo town. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 25 Sept) – At least 9 people were injured and thousands left homeless after a fire swept through a neighborhood in the southern Philippine province of Sulu.

”Nine people are with minor injuries and now at the hospital,” Gov. Sakur Tan said during a provincial peace and order council meeting on Tuesday in Jolo town.

The governor ordered a relief operation to help feed the fire victims and has offered refugees the use of the province’s sports complex as temporary shelters.

The fire broke out late Monday in the village of Asturias and more than 500 houses were burned, said village chieftain Kerkarl Tan. “There could be more victims and we need help now, like foods and blankets and tents for the refugees,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.

The governor said they would provide the refugees with tents and food aid and also sent a team of social workers and doctors to take care of the women and children. He said policemen were also sent to the village of Asturias to prevent other people from building structures or occupying lands they do not owned.

“We have to protect the victims here until such time they will be able to rebuild their homes,” he said.

There were reports of casualties, but many victims had blamed the fire department for the conflagration. They said fire engines had no water and residents doused their houses with dirty water taken from canals and creeks.

“Now, we don’t know where to stay for the night. Our house is burned and we have nothing left,” said Ibrahim Abubakre, a fisherman.

Authorities were investigating the cause of the conflagration, but one woman said the fire started from a wooden house where an oil lamp fell to the floor. “That’s where it all started,” she said.

The fire ate up at least two blocks in downtown Jolo, said a man, Nasser Unting.

“My conservative estimate is that more than 500 houses are burned and thousands are without homes and that’s for sure,” he said, pointing to the direction where houses were burning.

“You look at the sky, it’s red, and that’s fire below. You can hear people screaming and crying and cursing and you can’t blame them,” he said. (Mindanao Examiner)

Sep 24 2007

US, Britain Pour Development Aid In Southern RP

Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan with US and British Ambassadors Kristie Kenney and Peter Beckingham on Monday Sept. 24, 2007 in Patikul town in Sulu province in southern RP. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 24 Sept) – US and British officials on Monday unveiled a huge package of development projects in Sulu province in an effort to help Manila bring peace and progress in the southern region.

Ambassadors Kristie Kenney, of the United States, and Peter Beckingham, of the British Embassy, arrived WITH Philippine military chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon in Jolo town where Gov. Sakur Tan led local officials in welcoming the delegation.

Tan said the US and British projects will help a lot of people in Sulu, one of five provinces under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Among the projects are the rehabilitation of the Jolo airport by the US worth $3 million and $700,000 potable water system funded by the British government under the Alliance for Mindanao Off-grid Renewable Energy (AMORE) program.

«The $3 million will be used to rebuilt and renovate the Jolo airport so people here can their fabulous products out to market in Manila and the rest of the world,» Kenney told reporters.

It was in addition to the $190 million development and economic growth agreement the US recently signed to help fund other projects in Mindanao. «The $190 million will be spreading it evenly throughout various parts of Mindanao. The airport in Jolo and the water system, which costs $700,000, are separate projects,» she said.

The potable water system, on the other hand, will benefit hundreds of people in four villages — Siolakan, Bakud, Latung, and SibakLatud – in Sulu’s Siasi town, where AMORE also set up the communities’ first access to electricity using solar power technology in 2004.

The project consist of an intake structure, four impounding reservoirs confined with 7,335 meters pipeline and with 21 tap stands, said Tetchie Capellan, AMORE’s chief of party.

«I am confident that the completion of the potable water system project, the health, sanitation, and economic living conditions of the 200 marginalized households spread across the four villages will be addressed,» Capellan said.

The AMORE is an alliance of the United States Agency for International Development, the Philippines’ Department of Energy, Mirant Philippines Foundation Inc., the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Winrock International.

Bekingham described the province as vibrant and tremendous. «Everybody is very friendly and I am delighted to be here and see the projects that we are doing here,» he said.

He said Britain is committed to increasing expenditure on water related projects, ensuring universal access to safe water and sanitation. The British government, he said, has already supported projects in developing countries, like in the Philippines, a community-based program integrating water, sanitation and hygiene education.

Kenney and Beckingham also handed over ten units of computers to the Sulu National High School. The British government provided reference materials while the USAID helped to install the new computers and train teachers on their use for classroom instruction.

They also visited the Jolo Market Road which had been upgraded recently from an earthen causeway to a concrete-paved boulevard by USAID. Tan said the improved road now provides a more efficient means of moving products and people from Jolo port to the market area.

The road has already become an evening attraction for locals, many of whom now regularly take walks to watch the sunset and panoramic view of the Sulu Sea.

Tan said the ambassadors also handed over aquaculture production materials to former Muslim rebels now engaged in lobster and abalone farming. «Peace and development in the province of Sulu has always been the ultimate goal of my administration and the people of this historical archipelago.»

«Seeing it flourish again into agricultural and marine-based economic potentate in the region amidst challenges is the glory we all relentlessly working for early realization,» he told Kenney and Beckingham.

Esperon said the peace and order condition in Sulu has improved a lot the past months and is giving confidence to foreign countries to take a second look into the province’s rich natural resources. «Sulu is very peaceful and we have the US and British ambassadors here pouring a lot of development projects. It is a very good sign that progress,» he said. (Mindanao Examiner)

Sep 22 2007

Kano Nagbuhos Ng Proyekto Sa Sulu

Ang mala-paraisong beaches sa lalawigan ng Sulu ay maihahalintulad sa Boracay o mga resorts sa Phuket sa Thailand. Tatlong malalaking proyekto ang ilulunsad ng Estados Unidos sa lalawigan na patuloy sa pagunlad. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

SULU (Mindanao Examiner / 23 Sept) – Tatlong malalaking proyekto ng Estados Unidos ang ilulunsad ngayon sa Sulu bilang pagtugon at suporta sa patuloy na pag-unlad at katahimikan sa lalawigan.

Kabilang sa mga proyekto ay ibat-ibang infrastructure projects, patubig at kuryente. Inaasahang dadaluhan ng matatas na opisyal ng embahada ng Estados Unidos at maging sa embahada ng Britanya.

Isang opisyal ng Alliance for Mindanao Off-Grid Renewable Energy (AMORE) ang nagsabi sa Mindanao Examiner na ang proyekto ay bahagi ng pagtugon ng Estados Unidos, partikular ang United States Agency for Internatinal Development (USAID), sa katahimkan at pag-unlad ng Sulu.

Maganda umano ngayon ang kasiguruhan at pangangalakal sa Sulu kung ihahambing sa mga nakalipas na taon, kung kaya’t nabiyayaan ang lalawigan ng malalakign proyekto.

Natuwa naman si Gov. Sakur Tan at sinabi nito na ang patuloy na pagunlad ng Sulu ay sa kadahilanan ng pakikipagtulungan ng mga ahensya ng pamahalaan at mga bayan dito, gayun rin ang suporta ng mga business groups sa lalawigan at mga nongovernmental organizations at mamamayan at mga Ulama.

“Marami ang nagtatrabaho ngayon para sa ikauunlad ng Sulu at nais naming ipakita sa buong bansa at buong mundo na sa pagkakaisa ay may bagong pag-asa,” ani Tan sa hiwalay na panayam.

Ang USAID ang siyang nasa likod ng AMORE – ito’y 7 taon na proyekto sa pakikipagtulungan sa pamahalaan at Department of Energy sa Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). (Mindanao Examiner)

Sep 16 2007

Sulu To Become Like RP’s Boracay Resorts Or Thailand’s Phuket

One of the many white sands beach in Sulu province. Sulu is embarking on an ambitious tourism program that will make it like world-famous resorts similar to Phuket in Thailand. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 16 Sept) – Sulu province in the southern Philippines may soon become an island resort similar to Boracay in central Philippines or even Phuket in Thailand as part of a new tourism plan to lure Filipino and foreign visitors.

Governor Sakur Tan said they would convert some of Sulu’s islands and pristine beaches into resorts, complete with amenities and business centers and land and water vessels to transport holiday-makers.

“We wanted to develop Sulu into one of the most beautiful places in the Philippines and we are pursuing an ambitious program to promote tourism and also trade and investments,” Tan told reporters.

Tan said the plan to put up world-class resorts in Sulu would probably begin in 2008 and would take between one to two years to finish. “We are now working on this project,” he said.

Aside from Sulu’s white-sands beaches, Tan said the province also boasts of dive sites and is rich in marine resources.

Tan said Sulu would also begin shipping live marine products, such as groupers and lobsters and abalone to buyers in Manila and Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan.

He said that there is plan to put up an air cargo and passenger airlines in Sulu to further help local fishermen and cooperatives sell their products, from coffee beans to live marine animals.

“This is a long-term plan that will help many people and cooperatives in Sulu and eventually the province will become a center of marine trade in the southern Philippines. We can supply huge marine products to buyers,” Tan said.

He said the province is also abundant in copra and exotic fruits, such as durian and mangosteen berries and has a steady supply of high-grade abaca ropes.

Just this month, Sulu shipped out about six tons of durian and mangosteen to markets in Manila as part of the so-called “Invest in Peace and Prosperity — Fruits of Hope program.”

The international nongovernmental organization, Asia-America Initiative, headed by Albert Santoli, has supported the program and promised to help even more by tapping other NGOs to help support the peace and development in Sulu.

Sen. Richard Gordon said the government is putting more efforts in Sulu and other areas in Mindanao to help farmers sell their products.

President Gloria Arroyo in August ordered a «humanitarian and development offensive» in Jolo island.

Sen. Loren Legarda has filed a bill proposing the creation of a special economic zone and free port in Jolo island to promote and hasten the industrial and economic development of the area.

The SSEZA shall be provided with transportation, telecommunication, and other facilities needed to attract legitimate and productive foreign investments, generates linkage with industries and create employment opportunities for the people of the province, she said. (Mindanao Examiner)

Sep 15 2007

Sulu Provincial Government Launches Own News Organ

The Sulu Gazette, official newsletter of the Sulu Provincial Government. It provides latest news and information about the provincial government under Governor Sakur Tan. The monthly Sulu Gazette is also distributed by the Mindanao Examiner in some areas in the Muslim autonomous region, Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao City, Cebu City and Manila.

Sep 13 2007

Sulu, Patungo Sa Landas Ng Pagbabago

Ang magandang Sulu park sa harapan ng Kapitolyo sa gabi. Itong tanawin ay karaniwan sa lalawigan sa tuwing sasapit ang takip-silim at dito makikita ang maraming tao na nagpapahinga o kaya ay namamasyal. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

SULU — Todo ang suporta ng mga Ulama sa pamunuan ng Sulu upang maisulong ang panibagong pag-asa ng kapayapaan at kasaganagaan na matagal ng minimithi sa lalawigan.

Dalawang beses nakipagpulong si Gob. Sakur Tan ngayon buwan sa mahigit na 60 mga Ulama at religious leaders sa Sulu at doon ay isa-isang inilatag ng opisyal ang magandang plano nito sa lalawigan.

Pinakinggan rin ni Tan ang samut-saring mga suwestiyon ng mga Ulama ukol sa ibat-ibang bagay mula sa pagdaraos ng Ramadan hanggang sa aktibong pakikipagtulungan ng mga ito sa gobernador.

Sinabi rin ni Tan sa mga Ulama ang naipangakong tulong ni Pangulong Gloria Arroyo para sa Sulu na kung saan ay ipinag-utos nito sa ibat-ibang ahensya ng pamahalaan na makipagtulungan sa liderato ng lalawigan upang masimulan sa lalong madaling panahon ang development projects doon.

Maganda ang takbo sa kasalukuyan ng ekonomiya at siguridad ng Sulu mula ng muling maluklok si Tan bilang gobernador. Nais nitong mabago ang masamang imahen na nakadikit sa pangalan ng Sulu dahil mga maling balita na inilalabas sa telebisyon at pahayagan.

Umani naman si Tan ng maraming papuri mula sa ibat-ibang sector hindi lamang sa Sulu, kundi maging sa ibang bahagi ng bansa dahil sa maganda at mabilis na pagbabagong nakikita sa lalawigan.

Maging ang mga alkalde ng Sulu na noon ay madalas sa Zamboanga City at Maynila ay malimit na rin sa kanilang mga tanggapan. Nagbabala kasi si Tan na sususpindihin nito ang mga opisyal na madalas ay nasa ibang lugar o palaging absent sa kanilang tungkulin.

Kilalang masipag at matalino si Tan at dahil dito ay mas lalong naeengganyo ang mga ibang opisyal ng Sulu na pagbutihin ang kanilang tungkulin.

Nitong buwan lamang ay nagtungo rin si Tan sa isla ng Pangutaran upang pangunahan ang inagurasyon ng isang pagamutan. Maganadang ang nasabing ospital at mistulang modelo ito sa ibang mga bayan na pursigihin ang sarilong pagamutan.

Doon ay pinarangalan ng mga opisyal ng Pangutaran si Sulu Provincial Health Officer Dr Farrah Tan-Omar dahil rin sa kanyang kasipagan at pagiging modelong public servant at gayun rin ang ibat-ibang bumubuo sa Pangutaran District Hospital sa panunguna ni Dr Emelyn Bahjin Jalani at ang alkalde ng nasabing bayan na si Mayor Ahmad Nano na todo ang suportang ibinibigay sa sa pagamutan. (Mindanao Examiner)

Sep 11 2007

Sulu Launches “Fruit Of Hope” Program

Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan and Sen. Richard Gordon launch the «Fruit of Hope» Program in cooperation with supermarket owners and non-governmental organizations to help farmers sell their produce. (Mindanao Examiner Photo service)

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 11) – Six tons of fresh fruits from Sulu were ferried by a military C-130 cargo plane for supermarkets in Manila, the first in more than a decade, as part of an ambitious government program aimed at putting the province on the map of an emerging fruit trade and tourism destination in southern Philippines.

Sulu Governor Sakur Tan launched Monday the so-called «Fruits of Hope» program to help local farmers sell their produce, especially exotic fruits, such as durian and mangosteen berries.

Senator Richard Gordon, former Tourism Secretary, is helping Tan market local agricultural products, including coffee beans – Robusta and Arabica – which are abundant on Jolo island, about 950 kilometers south of Manila.

Gordon, accompanied by Presidential deputy peace adviser Nabil Tan and executives from Shopwise and Shoemart Supermarkets, Nestle and Asia-America Initiative, led the launching of «Invest in Peace and Prosperity – Fruit of Hope Program.»

The program, he said, aims to enhance peace and prosperity in Mindanao.

«Six tons of fresh fruits from Sulu were ferried by a military C-130 cargo plane for supermarkets in Manila. And we have more fruits and perhaps the best coffee in the country too, all ready for buyers,» the governor said.

«By a substantial shipment of farm products such as fruits from Sulu, will create the framework for peace through economic development. This initiative will eventually link the farmers of Sulu to big businesses and small retailers in Manila,» he said.

Tan said the international nongovernmental organization, Asia-America Initiative, headed by Albert Santoli, has supported the program and promised to help even more by tapping other NGOs to help support the peace and development in Sulu.

«This multi-faceted partnership to build economic prosperity will build trust and confidence between the people of Luzon and Mindanao.»

«This is a wonderful example of how people of many faiths and cultural backgrounds can recognizance their common humanity and realize that peace is possible and poverty that feeds violence can be overcome,» Santoli said.

President Gloria Arroyo in August ordered a «humanitarian and development offensive» in Jolo island.

Gordon, for his part, said the government will put more efforts in Jolo and other areas in Mindanao to help farmers sell their products. «There are plenty of fruits. We should help in the livelihood component of the people. If there is no livelihood, there will be no peace,» he said.

The Fruit of Hope program is most dynamic development and is a product of many positive developments in Sulu community. Aside from fruits, Sulu is also abundant in coconut and abaca and is known for its rich marine resources. (Mindanao Examiner)

Sep 08 2007

Military Engineers Arrive In Basilan Island For Humanitarian Projects

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 08 Sept) – Some 500 soldiers arrived Saturday in Basilan to take part on a massive government infrastructure projects aimed at winning hearts and minds of Muslims on the island, south of the Philippines where security forces are pursuing Abu Sayyaf militants.

The soldiers were part of the four army and air force engineering battalions that left Manila on Sept. 5 on orders from President Gloria Arroyo. They arrived in the town of Lamitan, where senior military and provincial government officials welcomed them in a ceremony witnessed by hundreds of locals.

The soldiers also unloaded bulldozers and other heavy equipment they will use to finish a P800 million, 165-kilometer circumferential road projects on the island stalled since 1995.

While the engineers work to finish the road projects, security forces on the other hand are pursuing more than a hundred Abu Sayyaf militants and Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels implicated in the killings of about 3 dozen soldiers since July in Basilan.

Arroyo released tens of millions of pesos for the projects and at the same time ordered the military to finish off the Abu Sayyaf before her presidency ends on 2010.

The government also began a massive developmental and humanitarian project for the island of Jolo, where local provincial officials headed by Gov. Sakur Tan have embarked on a massive program to promote tourism and investments.

On Monday, a C-130 military transport plane will fly to Jolo island with Senator Richard Gordon, former Tourism Secretary, to pick up tons of exotic fruits, such as durian and mangosteen berries and help market the produce in Manila.

Tan said the fruits would be sold to supermarkets and in agricultural trade fairs. He said aside from fruits, Jolo island is also exporting coffee beans, which is abundant in the province.

“We are now embarking on tourism promotion and investment programs in coordination with the different government agencies,” he told the Mindanao Examiner. (Mindanao Examiner)

Aug 31 2007

Jolo Island Sheds Off Bad Image, Gets New Face

Clouds cover a mountain and the magnificent Tulay Mosque in Jolo island in the Sulu Archipelago in southern Philippines. Jolo Governor Sakur Tan is embarking on a massive tourism program aim at luring investors and visitors to the island, about 950 kilometers south of Manila. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

JOLO ISLAND, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 31 Aug) – Jolo is undergoing a major face-lift, literally, shedding its skin of bad news and putting on a new face to once more bring back its lost glory as one of the most beautiful island in southern Philippines.

Jolo Governor Sakur Tan said he is embarking on an ambitious tourism program that will lure travelers to the island, where dive sites, pristine beaches and virgin forest resorts are the main attractions, of course aside from its rich cultural heritage and exotic fruits and fresh seafood and mother-of-pearls.

“There is always this wrong impression that our place is dangerous or that there are fighting everywhere. Taosug or the local people are friendly and hospitable. There is no strife here, although operation to maintain peace and order is just but natural in any place.”

“We have a good and sound economy. We exports our famous coffee and exotic fruits and other products to other regions and provinces. Air and sea travel is not a problem. We want to be known as one of the best place to go in the Philippines,” Tan told the Mindanao Examiner.

Next week, a C-130 transport plane will pick up a cargo of mangosteen berries and durian fruits for shipment to supermarkets and agriculture and trade fairs in Manila.

Sen. Loren Legarda has filed a bill proposing the creation of a special economic zone and free port in Jolo island to promote and hasten the industrial and economic development of the area.

She said the bill allows foreign individuals and organizations to invest in the zone. Investors shall be granted fiscal incentives and tax exemptions.

“The bill answers the need for development in the area through the creation of a special economic zone and free port,” Legarda said.

Tan welcomed the proposal and said the zone will attract Filipino and foreign investors and give livelihood opportunity to many people.

“This is a good proposal. Put up an economic zone and turn the province into a trading hub that will open new gateway to Malaysia and neighboring countries to promote business and tourism,” he said.

Once approved, it shall be managed and operated by the Sulu Special Economic Zone and Free Port Authority (SSEZA) headed by a board of directors.

The SSEZA shall be provided with transportation, telecommunication, and other facilities needed to attract legitimate and productive foreign investments, generates linkage with industries and create employment opportunities for the people of the province, she said.

Tan said he would invite newspaper editors, television and radio reporters to Jolo and see for themselves that there is no truth to all the negative publicity journalists have written about the island.

“We are appealing to the Philippine media to be responsible and write only the truth about the island. We are not a war-torn island as depicted in news articles about Jolo. We are inviting every one to come and visit us and see the beauty of the island we call home,” he said.

Jolo island, known in the Philippines as Sulu province, was once under the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo. Although consisting of a mixed community of Muslims and Christians, the Taosugs dominate the Sulu Archipelago.

The Taosugs were among the first Filipinos to embrace Islam as a religion and a way of life. Their traditional religion-political structure is the sultanate. The sultan is the head of all ranks within the sultanate. (Mindanao Examiner)

Aug 31 2007

Jolo Governor Orders Crackdown On Drugs, Weapons

Jolo island Governor Sakur Tan gestures as he speaks to police chiefs during a meeting in southern Philippines. Governor Tan orders police to arrest all known drug pushers and suppliers in Jolo and for authorities to seize all illegal weapons on the island. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

JOLO ISLAND, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 31 Aug) – Jolo island Governor Sakur Tan ordered Friday a massive crackdown on illegal drugs and has imposed a total gun ban in this southern Philippine island.

Tan met with the island’s 18 police chiefs in Jolo town and told them to step up the government’s anti-drug campaign and at the same time arrest owners of illegal weapons in an effort to stop the proliferation of unlicensed firearms on the island, about 950 kilometers south of Manila.

“We don’t want illegal drugs on the street and I have given orders to the police to arrest all those engaged in illegal drugs or those using these drugs. We also don’t want the proliferation of illegal weapons in this beautiful island,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.

Although drug use in taboo in this largely Muslims island, many young people are hooked in methamphetamine hydrochloride, popularly known as “ice,” and marijuana cigarettes.

Tan ordered the police to arrest those selling drugs. Most of the drugs come from nearby Zamboanga City.

He also ordered the dismantling of military checkpoints in Jolo and instead put flowers and other ornamentals that would beautify the island. The huge presence of armed soldiers around and checkpoints and roadblocks has made Jolo a virtual garrison.

Policemen were also told to be courteous and smile every time they speak to civilians, especially travelers or tourists. (Mindanao Examiner)

Aug 27 2007

Troops Shell Sayyaf Targets In South RP

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 28 Aug) – Philippine soldiers shelled suspected Abu Sayyaf lairs on Tuesday in the hinterlands of Basilan island as the military pressed hard to flush out the militants tied to al-Qaeda terror network.

“Our operation against the Abu Sayyaf is going on and troops shelled suspected lairs of terrorists in the hinterlands,” Colonel Rustico Guerrero, commander of the 1st Marine Brigade in Basilan island told the Mindanao Examiner.

There were no immediate reports of Abu Sayyaf casualties, but Guerrero said the shelling was concentrated in the town of Ungkaya Pukan, where 15 soldiers had died in previous clashes.

Last week, two soldiers were wounded in an Abu Sayyaf ambush on the island, just several nautical miles south of Zamboanga City.

More than two dozen soldiers were also killed fierce clashes in Ungkaya Pukan and Al-Barka towns since last month. And about a dozen casualties from the Abu Sayyaf side.

Troops were pursuing more than 100 Abu Sayyaf gunmen and Moro rebels linked to the killings of the soldiers, ten of whom were beheaded and mutilated.

Social workers said as many as 12,000 people have fled their homes because of the military offensive, although there were no reports of civilian casualties.

The Abu Sayyaf was said to be planning to kidnap journalists and civilians and used them as shield against pursuing government soldiers in Basilan.

President Gloria Arroyo was in Basilan this month and inspected troops fighting the Abu Sayyaf. She ordered the military to crush the Abu Sayyaf so the government can start development projects on the islands.

Security forces were also battling Abu Sayyaf militants in Jolo island, blamed for the killing of more than two dozen soldiers last month.

But while government offensives continue, Arroyo also ordered humanitarian projects on the two islands under the so-called “HELP for Basilan and Sulu Program.”

HELP stands for Health, Education, Livelihood Progress. Arroyo ordered all government agencies to contribute projects to the HELP template.

She pointed out that economic development remains the principal weapon against terrorism and that despite the recent hostilities, Basilan and Sulu are by no means a war zone.

The Commission on Higher Education has already offered additional scholarship slots and the Department of Trade and Industry also launched the “Sulong Sulu, Bangon Basilan” programs.

The government held its licensing examination for teachers in Jolo island and the Philippine Military Academy entrance test Sunday. The teachers’ examination was the first-ever held in Jolo while the PMA test was the first to be conducted in 17 years, said the island’s Governor Sakur Tan. (Mindanao Examiner)

Aug 26 2007

Teachers, Aspiring Cadets Take Exams In Jolo Island

A school teacher in the southern Filipino island of Jolo takes a government licensure examinations Sunday inside the Mohammad Tulawie School in downtown Jolo town. The island’s governor Sakur Tan sought President Gloria Arroyo’s permission to allow some 2,000 teachers to take the examinations in Jolo to save on expenses in traveling to Mindanao to take the licensure test. Also some 100 high school graduates aspiring to become a cadet take an entrance examination Sunday Aug. 26, 2007 for the Philippine Military Academy in Jolo island. The examination is the first in 17 years in Jolo to give equal opportunity for those living in remote provinces, says Colonel Antonio Supnet, the island’s army chief.

And group of children play at the Mauboh beach in Patikul town in Jolo island on Sunday. Contrary to Philippine media reports of fighting between troops and Abu Sayyaf militants, the island’s governor Sakur Tan says life is much better now for the locals, citing the steady growth of business and the improved peace and order condition since the implementation of the total gun ban in Jolo island. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

JOLO ISLAND, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 26 Aug) – For the first time in Jolo’s history, the Philippine Regulation Commission, allowed school teachers to take their licensure examinations on the southern island.

Some 2,000 teachers trooped to the town of Jolo and took the examinations held in two government schools. School Superintendent Delfin Unga said the island’s Governor Sakur Tan sought President Gloria Arroyo’s help in allowing the teachers to take the their licensure examination in Jolo.

«President Gloria Arroyo granted the request of Governor Tan and that’s why we were able to hold the PRC licensure examinations here. We were able to save money and time. We hope this will continue in the coming years,» Unga told the Mindanao Examiner.

Tan said the holding of the licensure examinations in Jolo island only shows the government’s concern for the welfare of the teachers. «We owe this to President Arroyo and she assured us of her administration’s continued support to the people of this province,» he said.

Perla Sayana, PRC head of delegation to Jolo island, said President Arroyo ordered them to fly to Jolo and supervise the licensing examinations for teachers as requested by Tan.

«We are really excited to come here and conduct the licensing examinations for teachers and we hope that in the future we will be able to hold other licensing examinations here to service the people,» she said in a separate interview.

Aside from the PRC examination, the Philippine Military Academy also held its admission test in Jolo island, the first time in 17 years, according to Colonel Antonio Supnet, commander of the Army’s 104 th Infantry Brigade.

He said some 100 graduates from high school took the PMA examination. «There were so many who wanted to become a cadet, but we follow strict guidance and rules before anyone are allowed to take the battery of examinations and eventually become a PMA cadet.»

«This is the first time in 17 years that the PMA is here to recruit. This will give equal opportunity for everyone – Christians and Muslims – to become part of the Philippine Military Academy,» Supnet said.

Tan also appealed to the press not to sensationalize the security problem in Jolo island, where troops are pursuing the Abu Sayyaf group, blamed for terrorism and kidnappings in southern Philippines.

«The government operation is limited to the mountains and everybody can come here and see for themselves the progress that we are now enjoying and the development projects that are ongoing.»

«President Arroyo is pouring a lot of humanitarian and government projects in the province and the military and police are doing a great job in maintaining peace and order,» he said.

He said beaches are full everyday of picnickers and the local economy is growing steadily.

«Trade with neighboring provinces is also picking up. We deliver fruits, like durian and lanzones and also coffee beans and rubbers by the boats everyday to Zamboanga and other places in Mindanao and as far as Manila, Cebu and abroad and we are growing.»

«And so we appeal to the media to report the positive gains that we have achieved and help us promote peace and development and lure investments and more trades with our neighbors,» Tan said.

Jolo island is one of five provinces under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and is famous for its pristine beaches and rich in heritage and culture. (Mindanao Examiner)

Aug 23 2007

War And Development Vs Insurgency In Jolo Island

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 23 Aug) – Manila will pursue a vigorous development and economic programs in an effort to defeat insurgency in the southern Filipino island of Jolo in the Sulu Archipelago, the Philippine News Agency said.

The island’s Governor Sakur Tan said Thursday that President Gloria Arroyo ordered government agencies to help develop Jolo and turn it into a progressive province in the Muslim autonomous region.

“Economic development has always been our primary weapon in addressing terrorism and other problems in the province,” said Tan, who was with the President in Zamboanga City.

Arroyo flew to Zamboanga City to preside over a military conference about the ongoing government operations against the Abu Sayyaf in Jolo and Basilan islands.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council said some 2,751 families have been affected by military operation in Jolo island.

“Despite military offensive, life goes on for everybody in my province. The government is really working hard to achieve peace and development not in the province, but in Mindanao as well,” Tan said.

He said Arroyo has instructed the Department of Trade and Industry to assist the province in the promotion and marketing of its products and other produce.

“There will be a C-130 plane that will transport our produce all the way to Manila and to department stores and supermarkets like Shoemart and Rustans.”

“We’ve just got a call from the Asia-America initiatives, this is the initiative of PGMA of bringing together all efforts of agencies of government in addressing problems of the provinces of Sulu and Basilan,” Tan said. (Jocelyn Alvarez, of the PNA and Mindanao Examiner)

Aug 11 2007

JI Bombers, Sayyaf Terrorists Protected By MNLF, Says RP Military

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 11 Aug) – The Philippine military has accused the country’s former rebel group Moro National Liberation Front of coddling Jemaah Islamiya bombers, including Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Jolo island.

Troops are pursuing the bombers Dulmatin and Umar Patek, who masterminded the deadly 2002 Bali bombings, and leaders of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group in Jolo island, about 950 kilometers south of the Philippine capital.

But Colonel Antonio Supnet, the island’s army chief, said MNLF members, whose group signed a peace deal with Manila in 1996, are protecting Dulmatin and Patek and Abu Sayyaf militants. They also attacked government soldiers pursuing the terrorists, sparking fierce clashes since Wednesday in Jolo.

He said Dulmatin and Patek and other Abu Sayyaf terrorists are hiding inside MNLF areas and being shrouded by the peace accord.

Manila blamed the Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiya for the series of deadly bombings in the country. The U.S. listed the two groups as foreign terrorist organizations.

Officials said 26 soldiers were killed and that more than a dozen injured in the clashes. “We will pursue the terrorists no matter where they hide or whoever is protecting them,” Supnet told the Mindanao Examiner.

The fighting, which erupted Wednesday, have already killed at least 57 people from both sides and sporadic clashes still continue in at least three towns – Parang, Indanan and Maimbung.

More government troops arrived Saturday in Jolo island to help more than 4,000 soldiers fighting the terrorists and rebels. At last 10,000 villagers have fled their homes for fear they would be caught in the battle, according to the island’s governor Sakur Tan.

Tan has ordered security forces to ensure the safety of the refugees and also social workers delivering humanitarian aids.

“We must ensure the safety of everybody and the security of vital government installations. We don’t want the fighting to escalate in civilian areas,” he said in a separate interview.

Supnet said troops have killed two sub-leaders of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group, Marag Asti and Salip Edimar, including a veteran commander of the Moro National Liberation Front in a clash in Jolo.

He said Asti and Edimar were working for Radulan Sahiron, one of the most senior Abu Sayyaf leaders on the island wanted by the United States and the Philippines for the spate of kidnappings of foreigners and terrorism in the troubled South.

“And when we recovered the body of Salip Edimar, we also got his wallet and there was his identification card – he’s a member of the MNLF and his ID card bore the signature of Nur Misuari, the chieftain of the MNLF,” Supnet said.

Misuari is currently in jail on rebellion charges after his forces tried, but failed to overrun a military base on the island in 2000. Misuari, disgusted with the peace agreement, fled to Malaysia, but was arrested there and later deported to Manila.

He accused Manila of reneging in the peace deal and for failing to uplift the poor living standards of many Muslims in the South. Under the agreement, the Philippines is to provide a mini-marshal plan and housing and livelihood to tens of thousands of former rebels. (Mindanao Examiner)

Jul 08 2007

New Communications Network Opens In Jolo Island

Jolo island Governor Abdusakur Tan gives a speech at the turn-over ceremony for the Talipao Area Coordination Center on Saturday July 7, 2007 in Bilaan village. (Photo contributed by the U.S. Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines)

JOLO ISLAND (Mindanao Examiner / 08 Jul) – Philippine and U.S. officials formally opened another inter-agency communication network to coordinate all 52 villages in the town of Talipao in Jolo island in the Sulu Archipelago.

Called the Talipao Area Coordination Center, the island’s elected governor, Sakur Tan, led Filipino and American officials in the inauguration Saturday of a newly-constructed building that houses the ACC in the village of Bilaan.

The ACC will coordinate the town’s villages and various non-governmental agencies, military, police, emergency services and other organizations.

«The constituents of Sulu, specifically the people of Talipao, are very fortunate to have a facility such as this,” said Army Brig. Gen. Ruperto Pabustan, commander of Special Operations Forces on the island.

“We are very lucky that we have an energetic and hard-working governor who recognizes the importance of having an ACC at both the provincial and municipal levels of government,” Pabustan said.

Tan said that the ACC is the perfect forum for the Moro National Liberation Front and the Abu Sayyaf Group to peacefully resolve grievances.

“We are expanding, and intend to link our municipal ACCs with a provincial ACC,” said Tan.

“Alone, I cannot do this. I need all of you, all government officials from all sectors, all military, all organizations including the MNLF and the ASG.”

“If they are genuinely concerned, this is the forum to voice those concerns,” he said. “We are going to invite them to sit down and discuss these issues peacefully.”

U.S. Army Maj. Michael Kenny, commander of American forces on the island, also expressed his admiration for the positive conflict resolution tools utilized by the Sulu provincial government.

“The ACC has been defined as a facility or office that is established as a proactive, reactive, and post conflict mechanism to address various concerns at regional and local levels of governance and to solve problems of coordination and response,” Kenny said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner on Sunday.

“Most importantly, the ACC is a symbol of the people’s awareness of the need to coordinate efforts in addressing the concerns of the citizenry that affect peace, progress and development,” he said.

Pabustan emphasized that the ACC is not just a communications center.

“The ACC will function both as a system and as a council for planning, integrating, directing, supervising, and implementing line-up government programs and projects particularly on political, socioeconomic, cultural, religious, development, security and information issues,” he said.

It was the sixth ACC to be built in Jolo island, but not the last, he said.

Future plans call for ACCs to be built in the remaining 12 municipalities to create a complete network of open communications across the island.

“What we need is aggressive, cooperative leadership,” said Tan. “I am very confident that together, we cannot fail.”

U.S. troops are deployed in Jolo island, on the request of the Philippine government, to train and advise the local military. They are also active in humanitarian missions and were working alongside with Filipino soldiers in development projects on poor areas in Jolo. (Mindanao Examiner)

Jul 02 2007

Photo: Two Filipino Boys Swim In Dirty Flood Water In Jolo Island

Two Filipino boys swim in dirty flooded street in Jolo island in the southern Philippines. New Sulu Governor Sakur Tan vows to fight poverty and promote security and peace on the island-province, one of five that comprises the Muslim autonomous region. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

Jul 02 2007

New Jolo Island Governor Promises Transparency In Governance, Hard Work!

Hajji Abdusakur Tan takes his oath as duly elected governor of Jolo island while the province’s First Lady, Hajja Indah, looks on. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

JOLO ISLAND (Mindanao Examiner / 02 Jul) – A huge crowd of mostly provincial workers welcomed Monday the new governor of Jolo island, Sakur Tan, who promised transparency and hard work in the next three years of his rule.

The employees, some of them previously worked with Tan when he was governor six years ago, chanted his name. Some even cried when they saw the man returning after long years of silent.

“There were many people. They hugged the governor and kissed him and embraced him. The respect for the humble man is overflowing,” one supporter, Abdurasad Baih, told the regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner, by phone from Jolo island.

He said Tan also met with different department heads and discussed with them his policies.

Tan took his oath of office over the weekend before some 3,000 people near the Sulu Provincial Capitol.

The text below was Tan’s inaugural speech.

Bismillahir Rahman Neeraheem! Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Taala Wabarakatuhu!I stand before you today humbled and profoundly touched by the trust and confidence you have again bestowed me, once more giving me the chance to lead as steward of out beloved island province for the next three years.Dahun ku in family ku, tumukbal sin pagsarang sukol ha pangandul dilhil niyo duma sin pagtawmaas sin Lupag Sug ha laum sin tu tahun. Insha Allah, tuyuan sin taymanghud ataw maas niyu ini, hinangun in hika hidjatul sin hulah ta niyu iban sin raayat sin Lupah Sug.We are fully aware that with this trust comes a huge responsibility. Admittedly, the task before us as your duly elected officials may seem daunting. However, we are confident that with your support and cooperation, we can work together to bring our province to greater heights and success, Insha Allah!We all know how truly abundant and rich our island province is. We are blessed with rich aquatic resources; our land is so fertile that we can grow any plant or tree we so desire to cultivate.We are located in a part of the country that is virtually free from the ravages of natural disasters and calamities. And yet, I cannot help but ask my self, why despite all these, are we still in a state of abject underdevelopment?Our assessment of this situation has led as to conclude that the primary cause for our present state of affairs is the lack of commitment from both the local governments and our constituents.Allow me to expound on this further – it is unfortunate that in the past, many of our local executives spent more time away from their respective stations, thus immensely contributing to the instability in our areas and the deterioration of the peace and order situation around us.This absence further made it more difficult for the constituents to have a sustained, regular avenue to seek guidance or assistance anent their concerns and issues.Today, let us rekindle in our hearts collection resolve by vowing to do everything that we can to make Sulu truly a better province to live in.To achieve this vision, let us be reminded by some of the basic tenets and concepts of leadership in Islam, and these are follows: That leadership is not only a public trust or mere political authority; but it is a divine trust imbued with moral responsibility.Pa katan pangabay ko, dana in hakatan opis sin parinta local iban national, kahakan kita niyo sin raayat bang ta dih mapasampay in amanat dihil katoh ta niyo bukon sadja ha mata sin parinta malaingkan ha aturan sin agama ta niyo.Today, we commit that we shall endeavor to give emphasis on the promotion of security and peace; to promote agricultural development; provide support to educational advancement; and to afford our constituents universal access to basic services, such as water, electricity, health and socialized housing.At this juncture, allow me to extend our deepest gratitude to all the development agencies of the national government headed by Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who has exhibited her continuing commitment to the development of our province by pouring in several millions worth of projects, but most of which apparently have not been properly implemented, and which we intend to look into.We also would like to express the same gratitude to the regional line agencies of the ARMM headed by Regional Governor Datu Zaldy Ampatuan, who can be a strong partner of the Sulu Provincial Government in the delivery of basic social services to our people, with our assurances that we shall maintain a close working relationship with them.We shall likewise endeavor to work with all development partners, both local and foreign groups like USAid, CIDA, AusAid, JICA, UNDP, UNICEF, European Union, CHD, the government of Sweden, the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and of the other OIC member countries, World Food Program, International Committee of the Red Cross, and others who have been continuously assisting us in our development needs.To achieve this, there is a need to meet with all sectors, like the LGUs, AFP, PNP, and even the MNLF, the diffirent NGOs and development partners and agencies and hopefully we can sustain a regular dialogue with them on pushing our peace and development agenda forward.There is also the established mechanism called Area Coordinating Center, which is representative of the different government offices and the private sectors in the province, and which I intend to expend and strengthen as our center of coordinative and collaborative work for the promotion of public welfare.We cannot overemphasize how vital it is that we all work together, that we merge our efforts and build up our capabilities, both as individuals and as a community.Our success lies in our being united for peace, progress and the development of our beloved province of Sulu.Panawagtawag namoh iban panaabbiti, in kahalan pagtawmaas sin hulah ta niyo Lupah Sug, subay niyo sadja lamuran iban tabangan magpapanaw sin hikajidjatul sin hulah.Once again, we ask all of you to join hands with us and work together in this incredible journey of realizing a self-reliant, progressive and peaceful Sulu. For all the differences in our beliefs and priorities, I would like us to unite ourselves to shape our destinty, celebrate our traditions and see the winds of change sweep the islands of Sulu.Awn hi kissa ko kaniyo…Awn hambuuk tawmass, nakaasawa siya batah bahgo saranglingkat babae, saltah lia,awan-lawan niya sadja, naabot in wakto miyatay in babae ini.Landoh nasusa in nakurah sambil kiapasaran niya na in hinang niya. Damik yan nasusa ra isab in kawman karnah in nakurah dih na makaalop sin kahalan sin kawman.Jari niya, awn hangkatao, miyadto kaniya nangasubu bang in altah malugay na kiasandah kaniya subay ra niya hi ulih pa pagka, lukatun na. In agi sin nakurah, subay mu hi ulihg bat sabab biyos sadja yan, kawaun na sin tagdapo ulian na.Na in agoi sin tao yadto, tuan subay kaw dih makalandoh in susa mo ha asawa mo sabab kiawa na isab siya sin tagdapo kanya. Na, kamo na in maingat tumapsil sin kissa yadto.In closing, let me quote American Justice Robert H. Jackson, which ruins, thus: “It is not the function of our government to keep the citizens from falling into error; it is the function of the citizens to keep the government from falling into error.”Thank you and good day!

Wassalam Alaikum Warah Matullahi Taala Warbarakatuhuu!

Jul 01 2007

RP Military Starts Anti-Terror Campaign In Jolo Island

Filipino troops, backed by US forces, launch a new offensive Sunday, July 01, 2007, dubbed Oplan: Ultimatum II, in an effort to capture — dead or alive — Indonesian Jemaah Islamiya bombers Dulmatin and Umar Patek and leaders of the Abu Sayyaf group, blamed for kidnappings of four US citizens and other foreigners in southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

JOLO ISLAND (Mindanao Examiner / 01 Jul) – The Philippine military on Sunday deployed more troops as new offensive against the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya terrorists began on Jolo island.

Hundreds of troops, backed by armored personnel carries, were spotted heading to areas where the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya terrorists are believed to be hiding.

In several instances, villagers reported seeing on Saturday heavily armed U.S. soldiers in armored vehicles, with Filipino troops.

Filipino military officials said the offensive is aimed at capturing — dead or alive – leaders of the Abu Sayyaf and two JI militants – Dulmatin and Umar Patek – tagged as behind the deadly Bali island bombings in 2002. More than 200 people, mostly foreigners, were killed in the bombings.

Indonesian authorities also tagged the JI as behind the 2003 JW Marriott hotel car bombing that killed a dozen people and wounded over 150 others.

Army Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said the codename of the new anti-campaign is called Oplan: Ultimatum II.

Cedo said troops will also embark on a massive humanitarian mission on Jolo island in an effort to win the hearts and minds of the locals.

“The operation is not only about fighting the terrorists. This is also a fight to win the hearts and minds of the civilians,” he said. “We want to transform Sulu into a place where everybody can live peacefully and with out fear.”

Cedo said the military will coordinate with the island’s new governor, Sakur Tan, in the campaign to rid Jolo of terrorists. Tan is one of few government officials in Jolo island that has publicly condemned the atrocities of the Abu Sayyaf.

Hundreds of U.S. troops are also deployed in Jolo island, on the request of the Philippine government, to help the local military fight terrorism.

The U.S. military is only providing technical intelligence to the Filipino troops because American soldiers are not allowed to participate in combat operation against the Abu Sayyaf.

Tan said he would ask for a security briefing with the Philippine military. “I need to be briefed about the operation against the terrorists. We don’t want terrorists in our place,” he told reporters in Jolo island.

He said he would also hold a meeting with U.S. security officials about the presence of American troops and their role in the war against local terrorism and Washington’s humanitarian efforts on the island.

Last week, the U.S. Pacific commander, Adm. Timothy Keating, in a surprised visit in Jolo island, inspected a captured Abu Sayyaf mountain base in Tugas village in Patikul town.

Both the Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiya are included in the U.S. terror list and Washington offered as much as ten million dollars for the capture of Dulmatin and five million dollars bounty for known local terror leaders. (Juan Magtanggol)

Jun 24 2007

Gobernador Ng Sulu, Naglatag Ng Agenda!

Sulu Governor Sakur Tan. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service) SULU (Mindanao Examiner / 24 Jun) Inilatag kahapon ni Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan ang mga priority projects nito sa lalawigan bilang paghahanda sa kanyang panunungkulan bilang bagong halal na opisyal.Nais umanong palakasin ni Tan ang ekonomiya at ang peace and order ng Sulu at pupulungin umano nito ang mga lider ng ibat-ibangbayan, religious and business sectors, gayun rin ang militar at pulisya.Nangunguna sa agenda nito ang kahirapan sa Sulu na sinabi ni Tan na siyang ugat sa lahat ng karahasan sa lalawigan.“Maraming gagawin ngayon dahil talagang napabayaan itong Sulu ng mga naunang mga opisyal. Kahirapan, ekonomiya at peace and order an gating pangunhin dapat ay pagtuunan ng kaukulang pansin,” ani Tan sa panayam ng pahayagang Midnanao Examiner.Nagpasalamat rin agad si Tan sa mga Kano dahil sa kanilang pagtulong sa mga Muslim dito at paglalaan ng mga development at humanitarian projects.“Welcome itong ganito ginagawang tulong ng US government sa Sulu at sana ay madagdagan pa ang kanilang mga proyekto para sa ating mga mahihirap. Hindi lamang ang US, pati na rin ang Japan at ibang mga bansa na tumutulong sa Sulu at ang pamunuan ng Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM),” wika pa ni Tan.

Nagbanta rin si Tan kahapon na kakasuhan at ipakukulong ang lahat ng mga opisyal na sabit sa anomalya sa Sulu.

“Magpapa-audit ako sa Sulu upang malaman natin kung mga katiwaliaang naganap at pangako ko ito na talagang ipakukulong ko sinuman mapatunayang nagkasala ng pagnanakaw,” dagdag nito. (Mindanao Examiner)

Next »

Related Post