Special Reports

Special Reports

WHERE HAVE ALL THE FORESTS GONE? Illegal logging intensifies in Surigao Sur despite total...

CARMEN, Surigao del Sur (MindaNews/17 September) -- The Aquino administration’s total log ban is endangering, instead of protecting, the remaining forest cover in the six towns of Surigao del Sur, as illegal logging activities have intensified at such an alarming scale, a church-led group here said.

10 years of US military presence (2): Post-blast investigations and trainings on high-tech weapons

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/19 July) – It was not the first time American soldiers were seen taking part in actual security activities of the...

10 years of US military presence (2): A trail of abuses, a string of...

2nd of three parts GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/17 July) – A trail of abuses on the one hand, and on the other, a string of...

Coast Watch Stations a major feature in recently concluded CARAT 2012

MAASIM, Sarangani (MindaNews/16 July) -- From afar, the steel facility looks like a cellular phone tower but it is not. It is called the...

A DECADE OF US TROOPS IN MINDANAO: Revisiting the Visiting Forces Agreement

Among the first to file petitions before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the VFA were the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, the Philippine Constitution Association, and Senators Teofisto Guingona Jr., Raul Roco and Sergio Osmena III.

A DECADE OF US TROOPS IN MINDANAO: Revisiting the Visiting Forces Agreement (2)

2nd of three parts Singapore solution On 13 September 1991, the Philippine Senate, voting 12-11, rejected the renewal of the Military Bases Agreement. Nationalists called it a...
FIRED UP Militants burn a US flag in a rally in Zamboanga City on 20 April 2012 to symbolize their opposition to American military presence in the Philippines. Groups led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan staged a caravan around Mindanao from April 16-20 that coincided with the opening of another round of war games in the country involving Philippine and US troops. Contributed photo by Aries Sandino M. Mordeno

A DECADE OF US TROOPS IN MINDANAO: Revisiting the Visiting Forces Agreement

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/23 April) – In October 2010, President Benigno S. Aquino III declared he would seek a review of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States, especially the provisions on the custody of US servicemen facing criminal charges. His statement came amid tensions with China over the disputed Spratly Islands, in the West Philippine Sea.

SALN: Great filers, big barriers

AMID the rampant misdeclaration or underdeclaration of their Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) by senior public officials lies a prettier, often overlooked, picture: the few good men and women in high and low positions who follow the law most diligently and truthfully.

SALN: Good law, bad results

WHATEVER THE outcome of the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato C. Corona, a once-ignored piece of document seems to be getting the attention it deserves at last. The question, however, is whether or not the general public’s increased familiarity with the Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth or SALN would finally shame public servants into taking it seriously and accomplishing it beyond token compliance.

A House of secrets By Karol Ilagan

A House of secrets By Karol Ilagan Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism SINCE the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona began two months ago, members...

SIDEBAR: PCIJ’s Request Log

BELOW is an account of PCIJ’s recent correspondences with Office of the Secretary-General, Legal Affairs Department, and the Records Management Service of the House...

Domestic abuse fueled suspicions of foul play

Women’s rights and migrant advocates in South Korea say complaints of domestic abuse are not uncommon here, and the story of Cathy Deocades is no exception.
The village of Tapgok-ri in Gongju City where Cathy Deocades, of General Santos City, lived. She was found hanging from a wooden bar in an abandoned house not far from her home, in what the South Korean police determined was a suicide. Photo by Malte E. Kollenberg / VERA Files

An Asian tragedy called Cathy

GONGJU, South Korea – Two and a half hours south of Seoul by land lies the farming village of Tapgok-ri, a remote part of the city of Gongju. Here, in the middle of nowhere, is where Cathy Deocades lived. It is nothing like the glittery and glamorous world shown in Korean dramas and K-Pop music videos, which are increasingly popular among Filipino women.

The Philippine tuna industry crisis: Another look (3)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/06 Feb) -- With the Philippine seas south of Mindanao already over fished, local tuna producers have looked beyond the country’s fishing grounds for their operations. In the 1990s, local tuna producers began opening up fishing operations in Indonesia and in Papua New Guinea. By the turn of the millennium, several Filipino companies had already put up canning plants in these countries known for their rich tuna fishing grounds.

The Philippine tuna industry crisis: Another look (2)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/05 February) -- The two-year ban has impacted the volume of landing of tuna at the General Santos City fishing port complex.

The Philippine tuna industry in crisis: Another look

Cracks are beginning to appear in one of Mindanao’s premier foreign currency earning industries as the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission gears up for its critical meet in March that could impact tuna production and its future in the region. While the government and key tuna producers are calling for the lifting of the two-year ban on tuna fishing in two pockets of seas in the Western Pacific area, some individual tuna producers say a total ban will bode well for local tuna producers in the long term.

SPECIAL REPORT: Mindanao floods: Unprepared for the worst (2)

Last of two parts MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/31 December) – Weather bureau PAGASA issued storm signal number 2 for “Sendong”. In the Philippines, however, most people...
Re-installed farmer beneficiaries of the Ocaya Ranch in Barangay Kuya, Maramag, Bukidnon build a hut in the 48-hectare land awarded to them by the Department of Agrarian Reform under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reform (CARPER) on Friday, December 2. MindaNews Photo by Ruby Thursday More

Agrarian reform beneficiaries reenter contested ranch in Maramag

MARAMAG, Bukidnon (MindaNews/03 December) – Gonzalo Pinuti held his hammer tight as he detached the barbed wire from a fence of a former cattle ranch amid the blistering heat of the sun. With help from a fellow farmer, it took him about five minutes to detach the barbed wires and put down three wooden posts and let his colleagues enter the ranch with carpentry tools, round timber and tents for their temporary shelter.

Ampatuans tried to secure amnesty for cache of guns

JUST A few weeks after the Nov. 23, 2009 Maguindanao Massacre, where 58 people including 32 journalists were executed in a remote barangay in Ampatuan town, officials of the Firearms and Explosives Division (FED) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were surprised to receive a deluge of applications for gun amnesty from one particular province in Mindanao.

SPECIAL REPORT (3): Transitioning from revolutionary group to governance team

COTABAO CITY (MindaNews/09 November) – Months before the hysteria over the P5-million fund for the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI), lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo,...

SPECIAL REPORT (2): P5 million for peace, P14 billion in 15 months for AFP...

COTABAO CITY (Mindanews/08 November)  -- Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin may not have intended the contrast but after a soldier asked about the P5 million...
BLMI TRAINING CENTER. The two-story training center of the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) under construction in Simuay Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, as of Nov. 5, 2011. The building's construction is funded under the Grassroots Human Security Projects of the Japanese Embassy. The BLMI has been in the hot seat recently because of the government check worth P5 million given to the MILF for the BLMI, an institution intended for peaceful endeavors. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

SPECIAL REPORT (1); What’s the fuss over a P5-M investment for peace?

A P5 million check the Philippine government gave the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) in August became headline news two months later -- specifically a week after the October 18 clash between the military and the MILF in Al-Barka, Basilan –- but with a spin: that the check was given by President Aquino to MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim in Japan; that the amount “may have been used” or “might be used” by the MILF to buy guns and ammunition that would be used against the military; and that the amount was not P5 million but P5 billion.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES. Supporters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front's struggle for self-determination express their sentiments on the government's proposal through messages pasted on walls along some streets in Cotabato City. MIndaNews photo by Toto Lozano

The Bangsamoro Dream (4): What’s wrong with the ARMM structure?

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/10 September) – “Learn lessons from our mistakes,” Parouk Hussin, the Foreign Affairs chief of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who became the second and last MNLF official who served as governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said five years ago when asked what advice he would give the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which was then nearing an impasse in the peace negotiations.

The Bangsamoro Dream (3): 21 years of ARMM, 32 years of autonomy experimentation

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/09 September) – The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is 21 years old but the“autonomous region” set-up or “experiment” as many refer to it, including Malacanang, the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, has been existing for the last 32 years, spanning six administrations..

The Bangsamoro Dream (2): “Guberno a sarwang” (alien government)

nd of a series COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/08 September) –  The supposed grant of autonomy by the first Aquino administration to what would be the Autonomous...

The Bangsamoro Dream (1): Why offer a “failed experiment” as platform for peace?

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/07 September) – When President Benigno Simeon Aquino III met with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim in Japan on August 4 to talk peace, he did what his mother did 25 years ago: meet with rebel leader Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in his homeland in Sulu, to talk peace. Aquino the son would have wanted to meet with Murad anywhere, even in his camp in Darapanan, Maguindanao.

Battling extinction in Mt. Kitanglad Range: Reemerging species

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/14 July) – Elito Guinoay, a Higaonon Lumad living in Sitio Lantud, barangay Sagaran in Talakag, Bukidnon, is one of the buffer zone residents who availed of livelihood funds for abaca production. A traditional crop, he said abaca helps in conservation because it thrives best in cool, shaded areas and so the farmer would do well not to cut the trees [around his farm].

Battling species extinction in Mt. Kitanglad Range: The economics of conservation

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/12 July) – Until the 1980s, the country’s natural resource protection regime had relied heavily on law enforcement. Forest protection in particular made use of forest rangers as the front line of defense against illegal logging and violations done by holders of Timber License Agreements. The ranger system proved to be a failure though, leaving the forests to the tender mercies of loggers many of whom were also politicians.
Mountaineers go down after a trek to the inner portion of Mt. Kitanglad Range. Mindanews Photo by H. Marcos C. Mordeno

Battling species extinction in Mt. Kitanglad Range

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/11 July) – In 1992-1993, American biologist Dr. Lawrence Heaney made a survey of faunal species in Mt. Kitanglad Range, a natural park in Northwestern Bukidnon. He recorded at least 16 species out of the list of endemic birds in Mindanao which can be found in the mountain range (area: 47,270 hectares).

How to cure Philhealth’s woes?

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines—The General Santos District Hospital (GSDH) here was not the only hospital that was investigated by Philhealth for fraudulent claims. Tertiary hospitals such as the AFP Medical Center, St. Luke’s Hospital, Philippine Orthopedic Hospital, University of Sto. Tomas Hospital, East Avenue Medical Center, Cardinal Santos medical Center, Medical City, and National Kidney and Transplant Institute have been investigated at one point or another for alleged Philhealth fraud.

Bogus claims haunt Philhealth

MANILA, Philippines—For many years you’ve been paying your Philhealth dues, and so has your company. But that money may have been misused to finance bankrupt hospitals and fatten doctors’ salaries. As early as four years ago, a scandal hit the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., which confirmed allegations that some private hospitals and doctors have been defrauding the state-run health insurer.

Tokenism in environment conservation: The case of Bukidnon’s major uplands

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/24 April) -- Aside from forestry laws and the National Integrated Protected Areas Act, there are other policies at the local and national levels that seek to preserve the country’s remaining forestlands. With the onset of climate change and its adverse impacts, there has since emerged a stronger demand for a serious implementation of these policies.

Tokenism in environment conservation: The case of Bukidnon’s major uplands (4)

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/23 April) -- In their watershed management and development plans, the local government units having jurisdiction over Mt. Pantaron, Mt. Kitanglad and Mt. Kalatungan identified environment-related problems affecting the water bodies and forestland/uplands. For water bodies, the leading problem is decrease in water quality caused by pollution and contamination, and for forestlands and/or uplands, deforestation and denudation and the attendant loss in biodiversity. Deforestation has further led to soil erosion and siltation of water bodies.

The case of Bukidnon’s major uplands: How much for the environment?

( Third of five parts) At the national level, implementation of the protected area system has suffered from a major deficiency: lack or absence of...

Tokenism in environment protection: The case of Bukidnon’s major uplands Second of five parts:...

Laws relating to biodiversity conservation had been enacted in the Philippines as early as the American colonial period. It was only in 1992, however,...

Tokenism in environment conservation? The case of Bukidnon’s major uplands

Bukidnon lies in the central part of Mindanao. Categorized as a first class province, it has 20 municipalities and two component cities and is divided into three congressional districts. As a landlocked area, it plays a crucial role as a physical artery that facilitates economic and other exchanges between the northern and southern regions of Mindanao, aided in large part by the improved condition of roads leading to Davao City and Cotabato provinces.

SPECIAL REPORT: Who’s afraid of a Bangsamoro sub-state? (6)

(Questions the Bishops and Business execs asked of the MILF peace panel) Last of six parts: Will conflict take a backseat? DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/06 April) –...

SPECIAL REPORT: Who’s afraid of a Bangsamoro sub-state? [Part 5]

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/06 April) – “We are a national franchisee operator for our trucks. In other words, we are franchised to operate anywhere in the Philippines. Our trucks operate from Luzon to Mindanao.What happens to our franchise when there is the Bangsamoro area … how will a grant of national franchise affect our operations?,” Gabriel Atega, vice-president of Ansuico Incorporated, asked the peace panel of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

SPECIAL REPORT: Who’s afraid of a Bangsamoro sub-state? (Part 4)

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/04 April) – If the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity of the ill-fated Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain of 2008 was perceived “very nebulous” by the majority, as Datu Michael Mastura, senior peace panel member himself acknowledged in the consultation with Mindanao’s business sector last March 31, and the proposed “Bangsamoro sub-state” is still a mystery to many, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) apparently needs to simplify its terms to communicate apparently needs to simplify its terms to communicate its proposed "asymmetrical relationsihp" with the Philippine government.

SPECIAL REPORT: Who’s afraid of a Bangsamoro sub-state? (Part 3)

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/03 April) -- On the issue of territory, Cotabato Arcbishop Orlando Quevedo asked the panel: “You and I know that Christians vehemently objected to that portion which was beyond Category A (of the botched 2008 Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain or MOA-AD) and especially people from Zamboanga, Davao and North Cotabato were vehement in their objections and yet I still find those very disputable contentious things in the draft. For historical reasons I can understand the MILF position but for the feasible and viable acceptance of this, for those who were vehemently opposed to this especially people from Manila, Zambonaga, Davao and North Cotabao, why should it still be there? For practical purposes, why should it still be there and risk again non-acceptance?”

SPECIAL REPORT (2): Who’s afraid of a Bangsamoro sub-state? (Questions the Bishops and Business...

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/02 April) – Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo noted that the proposed territory of the proposed “Bangsamoro sub-state” of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) covers areas that are presently the subject of the implementation of the agreement between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and government; and that it is also the present territory of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

SPECIAL REPORT (1): Who’s afraid of a Bangsamoro sub-state? (Questions the Bishops and Business...

What is this “Bangsamoro sub-state” the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is proposing? What is its composition? Who will lead it? What happens to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao? Are you speaking for the entire Bangsamoro people? What about the Moro National Liberation Front? What about the practice of religion? What happens to our national franchise in a “Bangsamoro sub-state”? How do you deal with constitutional issues?

The 1976 tsunami: Maguindanao had highest death toll

LINEK, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao (MindaNews/23 March) – “Pagdating namin dito, maraming bangkay. Ang kamalig sa palengke sa Dimapatoy, puno ng bangkay. Ang mosque sa Mompong puno ng bangkay. Yung kalsada dyan, puno ng bangkay.”

35 years after the 1976 Moro Gulf tsunami: whatever happened to the preparedness plans?

LINEK, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao (MindaNews/21 March 2011) -- President Aquino wants a review of the country’s preparedness in dealing with earthquakes and tsunamis and the Senate wants a probe on the same matter, even as an apparently forgotten report on the “Moro Gulf Tsunami of 17 August 1976” written 33 years ago, had recommended simple but doable preparations on what to do and where to go, should a tsunami strike again.

Babu Minang, survivor of 1976 tsunami: “Nothing was left”

“After the earthquake, we went outside the house and heard a strange sound. My father said it was the wind. But the coconut fronds were not moving. A niece said it sounded like water. Two huge waves came rushing in. It was so fast. I lost consciousness. When I came to, I was on the side of the mountain.”

Second of two parts: Ex-Navy whistleblower says she has evidence on AFP fund mess

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/22 February) -- In her letter, which the PPTRP obtained, Ex-Navy Lt. Senior Grade Nancy Grace Gadian alleged that in the 2002 and 2007 Balikatan exercises where she was involved, it was usual for AFP activities to be conducted without official funds because fund transfer is delayed. To address the problem, loans are made from “dealers” with connections to military officers, a scheme described by Gadian as “cost of money.”

SPECIAL REPORT: Ex-Navy whistleblower says she has evidence on AFP fund mess

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 February) -- A female former junior Navy officer who blew the whistle about the alleged corruption in the joint RP-US Balikatan military exercises four years ago has not gone into oblivion, showing up recently in a fighting mode as the controversial fund mess rocking the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) continues to grip the nation’s attention.

Smaller tuna catches worry traders

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/24 January)—High-quality large tuna stocks caught and unloaded daily in this port city, the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines,” are getting...

SPECIAL REPORT: Bt crops: boon to farmers or genetic hoax? (3)

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 Dec) - Sometime in 1961, Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey declared: "Agriculture is the greatest story America has ever had... The scourge of the world today is hunger and famine, and we're the only nation in the world in a position to do something about it. It's a far more powerful weapon than nuclear fusion. The Russians may be cheating on nuclear tests, but we're not cheating on agriculture. We're only timid about using it as a weapon for peace."

SPECIAL REPORT: Bt crops: Arguments for and against (2)

SPECIAL REPORT 2nd of three parts DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/20 Dec) - Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a soil bacterium embedded in the genomes of plants such as...