Immigration field office now in Robinson’s Place GENERAL SANTOS CITY (January 7, 2014) – Commissioner Siegfred Mison of Bureau of Immigration (extreme right), executives of Robinson’s Land Corporation (center) and Sarangani Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon (extreme left) formally open the new field office of Bureau of Immigration in General Santos City at Robinson’s Place Monday, January 6. The new location is expected to cater to clients more comfortably and be more accessible especially to senior citizens and persons-with-disabilities. The bureau has strategically joined other national and local agencies sub-offices in the One-Stop-Shop Public Service at the Lingkod Pinoy Center of the mall. (Bon-Bon Quiño/SARANGANI INFORMATION OFFICE)
Life is full of ups and downs. Hopefully we will experience more ups than downs, and if that is the case, most of us will be pretty happy. The same goes for places, I suppose. Sometimes places experience good times, other times places experience bad times. Over the past 5 years or so, for example, the United States (and much of the world) has been going through some relatively bad times, economically.
I first came to Mindanao back in July of 1990. Relatively, it was a fairly good time for the island in 1990. Previous to that, Mindanao had been through some pretty bad times. War had engulfed the island of Mindanao through much of the 70′s and even the 80′s. A peace accord was signed between MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front – an Islamic Rebel Group in Mindanao) and the Government of the Philippines in 1977. The nation of Libya was one of the big brokers in that peace agreement. Unfortunately, the agreement did not really hold up over the years, and in the 80′s there was a lot of unrest in Mindanao. In 1990 when I came to Mindanao for the first time, things had been fairly quiet on the island, and remained so for the most part through the 90′s.
In 1996, the MNLF and the Government of the Philippines signed another peace treaty under which the ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao) came to be. The Muslim groups now had their own autonomous region in Mindanao, which they could administer themselves. A lot of folks were happy. Unfortunately, though, some other groups splintered off from the MNLF and started their own aggression in Mindanao. Not long after we moved to the Philippines, in 2000, another war broke out, this time between the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front – one of the break away splinters of the MNLF) and the Government. President Estrada squashed the rebels pretty quickly. However, over the years since then, skirmishes break out on the island somewhat regularly. Usually this fighting is very localized, and it has always been far from Davao City where we live.
About 3 1/2 weeks ago, fighting broke out in Zamboanga City. Once again, it was the MNLF that took up arms. Why? Because the Government has been nearing a resolution of the conflicts with the MILF this time, and the MNLF basically felt left out of the process, so they made a siege in Zamboanga City. The City was under attack for nearly 3 weeks, and there are still problems there to this day, although not nearly as bad as things were a week or two ago.
During this time of the Zamboanga siege, Davao got hit too. Two bombs exploded in two different Mall Theaters in Davao about 2 1/2 weeks ago. Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured.
These kinds of bombings are fairly regular, although not often, in other parts of Mindanao, but almost unheard of in Davao. Dabawenyos (people who live in Davao or are from Davao) have always taken pride in how safe Davao City has been over the years, and that the city is relatively immune to such attacks. I have felt that way myself for the most part. So, when these theater bombings happened recently, a lot of Dabawenyos were shocked, myself included. It was a real slap in the face, and it made people here think more about the safety and peace situation in the City.
Luckily, as of now, there have been no additional attacks in the City. I will say, the City Government has taken this very seriously and has instituted a lot of additional security around the City trying to prevent any future occurrences of similar violence. So far, the measures seem to be working. I hope they continue working too.
For the most part, I still feel that Davao is a good place to live, and is safe as well. Bad things happen everywhere, even in very safe places. An area becomes unsafe if bad things keep happening over and over and are unabated. As of now, that cannot be said for Davao.
Over the years, when people have asked me about visiting Davao I have always said that it is quite a safe place, in my view. Right now, I am being a little more reserved, though. If you ask me now if it is safe to visit Davao, I would say that I consider it relatively safe, but it is a good time to keep an eye on things to see how developments go. If further incidents of bombing or other types of violence occur, it will be time to re-evaluate. If things continue with a lot of bad occurrences in or near Davao, it will be time for Feyma and I to evaluate our future here. I sincerely hope that does not happen because we both truly love living in Davao, and don’t want to leave the area.
So, we are in a period of what I would classify as Madness in Mindanao. I hope things return to a more sensible pattern soon. Who needs the problems? Not me.
My name is Bob Martin. I have lived on the island of Mindanao for 10 years. I suppose I have been banished.
No, I’m not really banished, but it seems that some people would think that banishment would be the only reason to live in Mindanao. This morning, as I checked my e-mail, I had a “Google News Alert.” If you don’t know what that is, it is a service that Google provides. In this instance, I signed up with Google that anytime there is a news article with the word “Mindanao” in the article, they send me an e-mail with a link to the article. So, in this morning’s Google News Alert, the alerted me to an article at the Manila Bulletin.
In the article this morning, the title was “Cops warned: Tamper with GPS on patrol cars, go to Mindanao.” The article went on to say that the National Capital Region Police Office has installed GPS units in the Police cars in the Metro Manila area. With these GPS units, they can monitor the movements of the Police cars, and keep track of where the officers are going. Some policemen do not like this, they would prefer that nobody really knew where they were spending their time.
Because many officers did not like the fact that these GPS units could track their daily movements, apparently, some of them have considered tampering with the GPS units so that they did not function, or somehow did not accurately report the whereabouts of the unit.
Here is an excerpt from the article in the Manila Bulletin:
Speaking before members of the Eastern Police District (EPD) during the turn-over of leadership of the command on Friday, Police Director General Roberto Rosales, NCRPO chief, appealed to members of the police force to protect the gadget from any damage for it to have a long life.
Rosales went on to say:
The police official said during his stint as chief of the Manila Police District (MPD) two years ago, he sent one of his subordinates to Mindanao after he was guilty of destroying the GPS of one of their mobile cars.
So, tampering with the GPS, or causing other damage to the Police car is punished by banishing the police officer to Mindanao? Ha ha. That is crazy.
Sometimes it amazes me how stupid people are when it comes knowing about Mindanao. In truth, Mindanao is a beautiful place. The vast majority of Mindanao is peaceful and quiet. Yes, there are places that are violent too, but those are only small places that are isolated, and not the main parts of the island. But, Directory General Rosales threatens his officers with being sent to Mindanao if they tamper with their cars or GPS units in the cars. That’s just crazy, and frankly, it is insulting to Mindanao and to Mindanaoans.
Anyway, enough said on this… it just struck me when I read the article that Rosales is very insulting to Mindanaoans.