The latest news stories from the major news organizations in Cebu and Manila in the Philippines, the US and other countries.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December 2, 2009 Major News Stories

Seaoil, Eastern Petroleum pump prices to rise by a peso

By six o"clock of Tuesday morning, pump prices of Seaoil Philippines Corp. and Eastern Petroleum Corp. will climb by one peso per liter.

OFWs in UAE fear losing jobs

Filipino Workers based in the United Arab Emirates are becoming restive due to fears of job loss amid the financial crisis being experienced in Dubai, a migrants' group said on Tuesday.

Ship avoids collision with another vessel, runs aground

TWO vessels hit each other in the vicinity of Mandaue-Mactan Bridge at past 10 p.m. last night, causing one of the ships to stray off its course and run aground in shallow waters.

Mambaling flyover expected to cut traffic by up to 40%

The proposed flyover along Natalio Bacalso Avenue in barangay Mambaling is projected to reduce up to 40 percent traffic in the area, the Department of Public Works and Highways said.

Kusug fields "placeholders" for top posts

The opposition Kugi Uswag Sugbo (Kusug) surprised critics and Cebu City residents when it fielded a certain Landolino Bontilao as its candidate for mayor and Jonah John Rodriguez as his runningmate.

Darza for mayor, as independent

FORMER Metro Cebu Development Projects (MCDP) chairman Samuel Darza Sr. joined the Cebu City mayoral election an independent candidate yesterday, while waiting for his nomination from the Nacionalista Party.

Atan vs. Tomas

BUSINESSMAN Jonathan Guardo filed his certificate of candidacy yesterday, saying he will face "the administration's weakest candidate"—Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña—for the south district congressional race.

Gwen picks Glenn

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia is running with businessman Glenn Anthony Soco as her vice gubernatorial bet for the May 2010 elections.

Mariquita Yeung running for Bogo mayor

Businesswoman Mariquita Salimbangon Yeung has decided to run for Bogo mayor in next year's elections, challenging the re-election bid of incumbent Bogo Mayor Celestino Martinez Jr.

CPPO to relieve cops with kin seeking office

The Cebu Provincial Police Office plans to relieve all policemen who have relatives seeking office in the same town they are assigned.

Cebu candidate doles out money to prove he's serious

To prove his financial capacity as a candidate, a 79-year-old man who is running for mayor of Cebu City, on Tuesday morning tried to give out 500-peso bills to the people at the local office of the Commission on Elections.  Jacinto Iran, a former chief marine engineer of Bulacao, Cebu City, who claims to have a fleet of cars, went to the office of Cebu City north district election officer Marchel Sarno at almost 10 a.m. Tuesday to file his certificate of candidacy, showing off a bundle of 500-peso bills inside the office, but a relative told him to hide the money.

Presidential candidates swell to 99 – Comelec

(UPDATE) On the eve of last day of filing for next year's polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has received 99 certificates of candidacy for president in next year's elections at the close of filing Tuesday midnight.

Gordon, Fernando team up as 2010 'transformers'

(UPDATE) Call us the "transformers," Senator Richard Gordon and former Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Bayani Fernando said of their teamup in next year's polls.

SC: Appointed execs are not resigned after filing COC

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that appointed government officials are not deemed resigned upon filing of a certificate of candidacy (COC).

Remonde to Ampatuans: Clear your names first

Malacañang slammed the door Tuesday on the Ampatuan clan's being readmitted to the administration unless their members are first cleared of culpability in the Maguindanao massacre.

Sinsuat vs Mangudadatu in Maguindanao gubernatorial race

A gubernatorial race among relatives looms in Maguindanao as only two aspirants have filed their certificates of candidacy to replace Governor Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr.

One of the gubernatorial candidates is Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu whose wife, Genalin, two sisters and supporters were massacred along with 30 journalists in the village of Salman, Ampatuan, Maguindanao, by about 100 men believed to be led by Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr.

Mayor Ombra Sinsuat of Datu Odin Sinsuat filed his candidacy for Maguindanao governor Tuesday morning with Mayor Midpantao Midtimbang of Guindulungan as his vice gubernatorial aspirant.

Ampatuans ask SC to stop warrantless arrest

The Ampatuans are asking the Supreme Court to stop the Department of Justice (DOJ) and other government agencies from arresting members of their clan without warrant.

AFP all set to serve warrants, other orders vs Ampatuans

While it maintained that the situation in Maguindanao remains peaceful, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has started augmenting its troops in the troubled province to assist the police in serving arrest warrants and suspension orders against those implicated in last week"s carnage.

Puno denies Ampatuans barred from leaving homes

Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno on Tuesday denied that members of the Ampatuan family were being held inside their homes.

4 more Ampatuans tagged in Maguindanao killings

(UPDATE) The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) has implicated four more members of the Ampatuan clan in the death of at least 57 people in Maguindanao, a police official said on Tuesday.

But Senior Superintendent Ericson Velasquez, head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Division, declined to name the other Ampatuans at this time. Their names will be revealed late Tuesday after the CIDG submits to the investigating panel of the Department of Justice (DOJ) all the evidence and testimonies of witnesses in the incident, he said.

Earlier, the DOJ filed 25 counts of murder against Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. before the Cotabato regional trial court.

Velasquez said witnesses tagged Andal Jr. and the four other Ampatuans as being in the area when the mass murder occurred on November 23.

Meanwhile, police officers Chief Inspector Sukarno Dicay and Senior Inspector Ariel Diongon, who were manning a checkpoint near the crime scene that day, will also be recommended for either administrative or criminal charges.

Cop tagged in Maguindanao massacre missing

A police official who purportedly kept the firearms used in the massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao has not been reporting to the police headquarters, police said Tuesday.

2 cops implicate Andal Jr. in Maguindanao massacre

Two of the four police officers relieved from their posts in connection with the November 23 massacre in Maguindanao province have implicated detained Datu Unsay town Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. to the mass slaughter of 57 civilians, including at least 30 journalists.

Mangudadatus: Many of the killers are still out there

A lawmaker in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) who lost his sister-in-law and two sisters in the Maguindanao massacre said on Tuesday they were not yet satisfied with the progress of the cases being filed against the key suspects.

NBI: Massacre victims negative for rape

MANILA - Fifteen female victims of the November 23 Ampatuan massacre tested negative for rape, findings of the National Bureau of Investigation's (NBI) medico-legal team revealed Tuesday.

Wife of Ampatuan rival had the most gunshots – NBI

Bai Genalin Mangudadatu, the wife of Esmael Mangudadatu who is running for governor to wrest power away from the Ampatuans in Maguindanao, suffered 17 gunshot wounds and several "incised wounds," according to a medico-legal report of the National Bureau of Investigation.

CHR, forensic experts go back to 'killing fields'

Binalikan ng Commission on Human Rights at mga eksperto mula sa ibang bansa ang pinangyarihan ng Maguindanao massacre. Nangangalap pa ng ebidensya ang grupo para mas mabigyang linaw ang kaso.

DOJ chief told: Go slow vs Ampatuans

Acting Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera has indicated that she is being pressured to go slow in pinning down members of the Ampatuan clan in connection with the Maguindanao massacre.

Ampatuans want trial in Cotabato City

(UPDATE) The family of Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. wants his trial for the Maguindanao massacre to be held in this city and claims it would be too much of a financial burden on them if the trial were held in Manila.

GMA to hold command conference in Maguindanao

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - President Arroyo will go to Maguindanao this week to hold a command conference and to condole with the families of the 57 victims of the gruesome massacre in that province last week, her spokesman said on Tuesday.

Arroyo congressional run irrelevant to national politics—Roxas

Senator Manuel Roxas II said the congressional run of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the second district of Pampanga will have no bearing on the political battle in the entire province.

Bishops rebuke Arroyo over Congress bid

Leaders of the influential Roman Catholic church in the Philippines on Tuesday accused President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of being drunk on power and urged her to quit her bid to join Congress in next year's vote.

Imee Marcos to run vs cousin in Ilocos Norte gubernatorial race

Imee Marcos, the eldest child of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, filed on Tuesday her certificate of candidacy for governor, challenging the reelection bid of her cousin, Governor Michael Keon.

Misuari seeks Sulu gubernatorial post

MANILA - Moro National Liberation Front founder Nur Misuari on Tuesday said he will be running for governor of Sulu province under the banner of the Bangon Pilipinas party of Jesus is Lord founder and leader Bro. Eddie Villanueva.

Devanadera vies for Quezon congressional seat

MANILA -  Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera on Tuesday she will run for congresswoman in the 1st District of Quezon.

Pagdanganan declared winner of 2007 Bulacan gubernatorial race

The Commission on Elections ruled on Tuesday that Roberto Pagdanganan won the 2007 mid-term elections over the sitting provincial leader Gov. Joselito Mendoza.

ExxonMobil finds signs of oil in Philippine site

The Philippine unit of ExxonMobil announced it discovered hydrocarbons - substances found in crude oil - more than a month after it began drilling in its first deepwater exploration well in the South Sulu Sea.

Abola: Dubai debt woes won't dent OFW deployment, remittances

In a phone interview with ANC's Business Nightly, University of Asia and the Pacific's Strategic Business Economics Program Director Dr. Victor Abola said the debt concerns of Dubai World will not make a dramatic dent on deployment of Filipinos to and remittances sent from the oil-rich emirate since construction activities in the oil-rich emirate has been slowing down in the past months. 
Abolo also said the debt issues of Dubai World will likely result in delays in new global bond issues of emerging countries like the Philippines.

Dubai crisis wont affect RP borrowings—treasurer

MANILA - The government is optimistic that Dubai's massive debt problems will not have an effect on the Philippine borrowings, even as analysts said the volatility in bond and equity markets will make government overseas borrowings more expensive.

Pirate attack repelled off Oman

ATHENS—The crew of a Greek oil tanker on Tuesday used water hoses and flares to repel a dawn attack by pirates off Oman, Greek harbor police said.

"Christmas in Somalia likely for 71 kidnapped RP seafarers"

With only 24 days before Christmas, some 71 Filipinos who are held captive by Somali pirates in the Horn of Africa are likely to spend the holidays locked up on their ships than at home with their loved ones, the head of a seafarers" group said Tuesday.

Official: Afghan buildup involves 30,000 troops

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama plans to send 30,000 more troops to be deployed over six months, a senior administration official told The Associated Press Tuesday, escalating the 8-year-old war.

Roach eyeing another title bout for Pacquiao?

Manny Pacquiao signed up Tuesday to slug it out with a local rival in next year's elections as reports said the seven-time world champion would fight for an astonishing eighth world title.

Pacquiao says poll foe stronger than Cotto

MANILA – Seven-time world champion Manny Pacquiao on Tuesday filed his certificate of candidacy for congressman of Sarangani Province, and said his electoral opponent is stronger than Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto.  

Aspiring rabbi eyed as Pacquiao's next opponent

An aspiring rabbi, WBA super welterweight supremo Yuri Foreman of Israel, might be Manny Pacquiao"s next rival, not welterweight superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr., according to trainer Freddie Roach.

Pacquiao's poll bid gets in way of Mayweather fight

MANILA – The ongoing negotiations for the Manny Pacquiao vs Floyd Mayweather, Jr. mega fight are said to be tough because of money matters. Now, even Pacquiao's congressional bid in 2010 is posing some scheduling problems.

Good news for Z

DATCHES Gorres will soon be reunited with her husband, fallen ALA Gym star Z Gorres, in Las Vegas, as her visa was approved by the US Embassy yesterday.

Vietnam backs out of math contest

Vietnam has backed out from the Philippine International Mathematics Competition which opened here on Monday due to the negative news reports generated by the Maguindanao massacre.

Vilma Santos, Boyet de Leon, Ermitas file CoCs in Batangas

Reelectionist Batangas Governor Vilma Santos-Recto and actor Christopher 'Boyet' De Leon filed their certificates of candidacy before the provincial Commission on Elections at the Capitol at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

De Leon, who ran for vice governor in 2007 but lost, is now seeking the post of board member in the 2nd District of Batangas.

He had just joined the Liberal Party on Tuesday.

Sonza, Papin file for VP and senatorial positions

Veteran News Anchor and UNTV 37's station manager Jay Sonza together with jukebox queen Imelda Papin filed their certificate of candidacies Tuesday for vice president and senator positions, respectively, at the Commission on Elections headquarters in Manila.

Woman marries massacre victim before burial

Slain journalist John Caniban was wed to his longtime live-in partner in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, on Tuesday morning, in a ceremony held by his family and friends to symbolize that not even death can tear the two lovers apart.

Ex-model Nikki Teodoro to quit politics

MANILA -Tarlac 1st district Rep. Monica Louise "Nikki" Prieto-Teodoro on Tuesday said she will quit politics to support her husband's bid for the presidency.


Secretary Jesus Dureza's gripping first-hand account of the critical four-day aftermath of the Ampatuan (Maguindanao) massacre, leading to the surrender of Ampatuan town mayor Datu Andal "Unsay" Ampatuan Jr. as prime suspect in the mass killing.
(A recollection of those four critical days )


DAY ONE – Monday Nov 23

I was monitoring closely reports about a missing convoy in Maguindanao with media friends. Later in the day, reports of mass murder of the Mangudadatus were confirmed. Allegedly by Datu Unsay Ampatuan Jr. et al. 

My instincts told me this could well be a very explosive situation. When media called, I said I would recommend proclaiming a state of emergency. At 8 p.m. SND Bert [Secretary of National Defense, Norberto] Gonzales and I met. He told me the President had directed that I act as "crisis manager."

DAY TWO – Tuesday Nov 24

Bert and I took the earliest flight to Gen. Santos City. At the 601st Brigade [headquarters] in Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat, briefings were held. Initial photos of the carnage were flashed on the screen. Gruesome! 

Next we met with the Mangudadatus, many of them my personal friends. They were tense and angry. They wanted to retrieve the bodies immediately. They demanded justice, immediately. The Ampatuans did it, they said. 

After Bert and I expressed government's resolve to do everything possible, Toto Mangudadatu said they will cooperate. No retaliatory action, but government must give justice.

12 noon – A teleconferencing call connected Bert and me to the Palace where the President was presiding over a hastily-called security meeting. We were getting specific instructions from her. 

So did Bert, PNP Chief Jess [Philippine National Police chief, Director General Jesus] Verzosa and AFP Vice CS [Armed Forces of the Philippines vice chief of staff, Rodrigo] Maclang who arrived with us. Her voice had that sense of urgency. Inputs from the other cabinet members were also relayed.

1:00 PM – The crisis management committee was activated. Assisting me were Eastmincom Gen. [Eastern Mindanao Command chief, Lt. General Raymundo B.] Ferrer and PNP 12 Director [Police Chief Superintendent Felizardo] Serapio. 

2:00 PM – Bert left to fly back to Manila. Col. [Medardo] Geslani, 601st Brigade commander assisted in setting up the command center. It was at this time that I operationalized an action plan I had quietly formulated in my mind. It was a simple plan drawing lessons from past experiences. 

3:00 PM – Having talked with the Mangudadatus, I decided to go see the Ampatuans in Shariff Aguak. I felt confident. Both families were my friends. And I had direct access to them. With my staff and without military escorts, except for one military officer, Col. Macario as guide, I motored to the Ampatuan residence. 

3:45 PM – I entered the Ampatuan fenced premises, and the patriarch Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. was there waiting for me. With him seated in a bahay kubo on the sprawling grounds were several ARMM and Maguindanao officials and relatives. Armed followers were everywhere.

After informing Gov. Andal that my purpose in coming was because of the incident and that his son, Mayor [Datu Andal] "Datu Unsay" Ampatuan Jr. was implicated, I told "Bapa" Andal that it would be best that the Ampatuans also "cooperate." I said that Datu Unsay should submit to an investigation. He immediately said, "OK. Kausapin mo sya. Ipatawag ko si Datu Unsay. Basta kayo, Secretary, walang problema (OK. You talk to him. I will call for Datu Unsay. No problem, Secretary, so long as you're the man)." 

I told him I wanted to see Datu Unsay as I got reports that he was missing or had escaped. Bapa said: "Hindi yan totoo. Darating si Datu Unsay. Magpakita sya sa'yo Secretary (That's not true. Datu Unsay will be here. He'll show himself to you, Secretary)." Bapa Andal, as usual, was a man of few words. 

We then went inside the house to wait for the son's arrival. In the meantime, ARMM [Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao] Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan and Cong. Digs [Congressman Didagen] Dilangalen arrived from the airport. Usec. Zam [Undersecretary Zamzamin] Ampatuan, Atty. Cynthia Guiani Sayadi, among others were there too. 

I felt a bit tense and uncomfortable. I did not want to start talking about the incident until Unsay would arrive. We were chatting for about an hour, trying to divert the issue and loosen up. A lively conversation centered on how many children some of their relatives had. One relative had 70 children – of course from several mothers. Etc.

4:30 PM – We waited. I noticed that Atty. Cynthia was using her cellphone and taking pictures while we were chatting. Unsay arrived and got seated on my left. We continued a bit about our light banter until Unsay settled down. 

(GMA7 later that same evening showed some pictures on TV. My wife Beth texted me and called my attention immediately when she saw it: "Bakit ka smile kasama mga Ampatuan (Why do you smile with Ampatuans). Not proper." I agreed. But I was puzzled where the pictures came from and who sent them. There were no media people around. I surmised Cynthia did it.)

5:00 PM – I was becoming worried that darkness would overtake my return trip to Sultan Kudarat. Many armed and uniformed men on the highway. One could not tell what group or unit. So when Unsay got seated, I immediately told him that I came because of the serious incident and that initial reports mentioned his name as involved. I told him my purpose in coming was only to be assured that he would cooperate and submit himself to any investigation. 

He looked at the direction of Gov. Andal who spoke first: "Gaya ng sinabi ko sa'yo kanina, magcooperate kami, Secretary (Like what I told you a while ago, Secretary, we will cooperate)." Then Unsay himself echoed this, saying: "Mag-cooperate po kami (We will cooperate, sir), Secretary." I then stood up and said I would contact them again soon.

We arrived in Marbel [older name of Koronadal] already dark and stayed there for the night.

DAY THREE – Wednesday Nov 25

8:30 AM – I visited a funeral parlor in Marbel. Some bodies not identified yet. I then directed DSWD 12 [Department of Social Welfare and Development, Region 12] to attend to the immediate needs of the families, and that DOH [Department of Health] 12 and OCD [Office of Civil Defense] 12 were to assist. 

I motored to Tacurong at 601st Brigade and met the NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] team that just arrived from Manila. I reconvened the crisis committee and mapped up moves on how to fast-track work. 

A team of PNP investigators were sent to the residence of Buluan Vice Mayor Toto Mangudadatu to get statements but they were told that affidavits of their witnesses would be submitted instead, perhaps the following day. I was already aware that the outrage over the killings was mounting. And government was being criticized for slow action.

12 noon – Over lunch at the brigade, I consulted with the crisis committee on my plan: it was time to contact the Ampatuans and call in Datu Unsay to voluntarily surrender. As they committed to me yesterday.

I was also quietly informed that an operational plan was underway to forcibly take custody of him.

2:00 PM – On my way to Marbel to dialogue with all the families of the victims, I made several calls. First with ARMM Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan. I told him it was time to bring in Datu Unsay. He told me he would consult the father, Gov. Andal. I said I had only until 5 PM that day to work on this plan. After 5 PM, the scenario would no longer be the same, I told him.

4:00 PM – While meeting the families of victims in downtown Marbel, I got a call from the father, Gov. Andal telling me that he would turn over to me Datu Unsay but requested that the deadline be moved from 5 PM today to 10 AM the following day. 

I immediately told him I could not guarantee things if the deadline was moved. He said the Ampatuan clan would meet that evening and discuss things and bid goodbye to Datu Unsay. I told him I would get back to him by phone. I made calls and informed some of my colleagues (with whom I had been consulting from the beginning) of the request.

There were objections. Understandable reservations: what if the extension was a ruse to escape that evening? What were the guarantees that he would voluntarily surrender during the new deadline? People were becoming outraged not only about the crime but about the perceived slowness of government, so why waste more time? The forces were ready to strike, so why delay?

But I also reasoned back: How sure are we that we would get Datu Unsay in the operations? (From yesterday's visit to the Ampatuans, I was certain that he was not there in the immediate vicinity but came from somewhere far.) 

An assault would surely cost lives knowing the armaments, the culture and the situation. People were crying for swift action but I would not agree to precipitate action. I also said I believed Gov. Andal was sincere when he told me he would bring out his son when needed. 

To wrap up my point, I said: I would take full responsibility for whatever outcome.

My new timeline was adopted. I moved the deadline to 10:00 AM the following day. 

That night, we reviewed the "pickup" scenario several times and mapped out contingencies just in case things would not go as planned. In the meantime, government troops moved according to operational plans. 

That evening, I got a call from Atty. Cynthia getting an assurance from me that nothing would be launched that evening until the 10 AM pickup time the following day. I told her if there were troop movements, these were in support of the 10 AM "pickup."

Later in the night, another complication suddenly arose. Gen. [Region 12 Police chief] Serapio and Col. Geslani informed me that they got information that Toto Mangudadatu would motor with his followers to file his certificate of candidacy the following morning in Shariff Aguak. 

I immediately called Gov. Teng [Sultan Kudarat governor Suharto] Mangudadatu. I told him that there was something afoot the following morning and that without disclosing what it was all about, I requested if he could convince Toto to move his filing to another day. A few minutes later, Gov. Teng called and said the clan agreed.

DAY FOUR – Thursday Nov 26

6:00 AM – Early morning, government forces took over and occupied the ARMM facilities and other buildings and premises in Maguindanao province. Armed elements loyal to the Ampatuans were taken by surprise and gave up their firearms without resistance.

I was nervous a bit but confident. The "what-if" scenarios kept popping up in my mind. I motored to the 601st Brigade for the final briefings. The choppers would pick me up from there. Gen. Ferrer and I watched as more newly arrived troops were jumping off towards designated areas.

9:00 AM – I was informed that something went wrong with the Huey helicopters coming from Cotabato. The Davao choppers were instead dispatched but would not be able to arrive by 10 AM. 

9:55 AM – I got a call from Col. Geslani whom we tasked to liaison with the Ampatuans that they were requesting for a little time as they were waiting for their lawyer, who was still on the road, to arrive. That was a break I needed. The two choppers arrived. We discussed with the pilot and crew contingencies and procedures.

10:45 AM – We were ready to jump off on cue from Col. Geslani. It would be a short 35-minute hop from the brigade to Shariff Aguak. My staff Cecil said she's getting nervous but insisted on joining. My assistant Yo was busy texting. 

But wait, another problem suddenly cropped up. As we were boarding, the two PNP officers tasked to escort the suspect said they could not use the handcuff on Ampatuan as the KEY WAS MISSING! 

"What about the other handcuff with your buddy," I asked. 

"Ganon din po (Same problem), sir,", he replied. 

"Sh_t!" I almost fell from my seat! "Sarap sapakin!" (I'd love to bash your faces in!) 

But there was no more time. We then agreed that Ampatuan would be strapped with the seatbelt and the policemen would firmly clasp the buckles to prevent any unexpected situation while airborne. 

(When I was asked later by reporters why Ampatuan was not handcuffed, I had a ready curt answer with a straight face: "He is adequately restrained!" Sec. Agnes [Secretary of Justice Agnes Devanadera] promptly responded with the same line when she was asked upon landing in Manila. )

11:20 AM – Two Hueys landed on the Maguindanao province capitol grounds. The Huey engines were not shut off as agreed upon, in case a sudden exit maneuver was necessary. I waited for 20 minutes on the ground. I was getting worried. 

Finally, I saw my staff Ollie with his thumbs-up sign. Col. Geslani signalled, they were on their way. My "what-if" scare disappeared. The capitol gates opened. The Ampatuan family arrived on board vehicles from another location nearby. 

Gov. Zaldy, clasping my hand, said: "Ipaubaya ni Amah si Datu Unsay sa 'yo (Father is entrusting Datu Unsay to you)" and turned over Datu Unsay to me. We boarded the aircraft with Atty. Cynthia, insisting she had to ride with him.

11:40 AM – Helis took off en route to Gen. Santos City where Sec. Agnes and her crew were waiting for an inquest proceeding. But again something happened. About a few minutes airborne and while still climbing and gaining altitude, I first noticed some flapping sound outside. 

I thought, maybe some loose parts of the chopper. The noise kept coming, intermittent. I looked down and maybe I saw flashes but I was not sure.

Suddenly, the Huey banked sharply to the right and simultaneously, several short bursts from our two Huey gunners at the back. The bursts startled all of us. The evasive maneuver by the pilot also jarred us. All of us kept our heads low as the Huey steeply climbed. 

My staff Jerry and Col. Mac, who were seated beside the open Huey doors, ducked. The soldier at the back shouted, "Ground fire, sir."

We still climbed. The flapping sound from outside could not be heard anymore. The gunners later told me ground fire sounded like flapping from the air. The evasive action and the machine-gun bursts were SOP. 

At 2,000 feet altitude, we cruised. That's when I saw on the Huey floor an empty shell from the bursts of the M60 machine gun on board.

I picked up the empty shell, then pocketed it for good luck.

At the Gensan airport, I called the Boss: "Mission accomplished, Mrs. President."

Ogden Nash  - "The trouble with a kitten is that when it grows up, it's always a cat."

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