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FOR THE CAUSE BY ATTY. EDIL BADDIRI

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On the night of February 3, 2011, Jolo was hit by two flash floods and two cyclones. The events left seven people dead, 24 injured, 1,140 families displaced and about 150 houses destroyed, according to ARMM Provincial Coordinator for Sulu Amilbasa Annil. National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Commissioner and Grand Mufti for the Province of Sulu Julasiri Abirin was one of those severely affected. All his books and appliances were drenched by the floodwaters and he has been removing mud the past two days. Sulu Governor Sakur Tan’s three expensive vehicles and his house were heavily damaged.  As I went around downtown Jolo on the morning of Februarry 4, 2011, many local businessmen were busy cleaning up their stores and removing damaged goods. It will take time before the people of Jolo will recover from these tragic events.

As with the Typhoon Ondoy incident in Metro Manila, the damages done could have been ameliorated. Flooding in Jolo has been a constant and recurring incident for the last five years. Knowing Sulu Governor Tan and Jolo Mayor Hussin Amin, I am certain that they will finally remove the structures along the natural water pathways. In my conversation with newly-appointed Undersecretary Nabil Tan, I informed him of the 2008 plan to relocate many of the families occupying houses situated in the waterways to the National Housing Authority estate in Bo Tan, Kajatian, Indanan. He will be in Sulu this Saturday along with DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman and other top national officials.

It is also high time to look into the many sidewalk stores that have attained a nature of permanence on the streets of downtown Jolo. While it generates income and livelihood for many storeowners, it has caused disorder for pedestrians and vehicles. The leaders of Sulu must look into Patikul and Indanan to expand the commercial areas in Sulu.

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The controversial plea bargain agreement between the Office of the Ombudsman and General Carlos Garcia has resulted in the biggest expose of corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The revelations of retired Colonel George Rabusa have put many former Armed Forces Chief of Staffs in a very bad light. Specifically, he has named the following: General Angelo Reyes, General Roy Cimatu, and General Diomedio Villanueva.

The sad ending of the life of General Reyes should be a sobering incident to our leaders. It must increase our resolve to reform the important institutions of Republic, especially the Armed Forces of the Philippines. I personally know that military leaders like former Commanding General of the Philippine Army General Romeo Tolentino and the current Commanding General of the Westerm Mindanao Command General Raymundo Ferrer have implemented and pushed for institutional changes to prevent further corrupt acts.

The revelations have also cast the Commission on Audit in a bad light.  COA Director Divina Cabrera and Commissioner Raul Flores have been named as receiving certain amount from Col. Rabusa. Heidi Mendoza mentioned Former COA Chairman Guillermo Carague as hindering her investigation of the many AFP scams. COA is supposed to be the front line agency to prevent graft and corruption. If it fails to do its job, then corruption is made easier. Worse, it legitimizes many of the corrupt and graft acts.
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We extend our congratulations to Atty. Nabil Tan for his appointment as Undersecretary under the Office of the President. He is a technocrat with a long stint in government service. I have witnessed him worked as the head of the GPH panel in the GPH-MNLF Tripartite Talks in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He is an impressive individual and a model public servant. Most importantly, he has remained humble and accessible and has continued to help young and promising individuals in their careers. The People of Sulu must be proud of him. According to journalist Julmunir Jannaral, Usec. Tan will be handling the Anti-Terrorism Council of the Office of the President.

Congratulations too to Amina Rasul for her recent appointment as a member of the Board of Director s of the Mindanao Development Authority. She has served government in various capacities. More impressive is the work she has done with the Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy. She has built a world-class organization at the forefront of many important issues affecting Philippine governance and democracy.

For questions and comments, please email writer at ebaddiri@gmail.com




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