News from Philippines
- Poverty & injustice
Loren L. Legarda
THE escalation of violence in Sulu and the deaths of
both government forces and MNLF elements have brought
the battleground once again to the South and has
rekindled the need for a more stable environment and
the quest for lasting peace. This brings to mind the
peace agreement inked by the Ramos government in 1996
in Jakarta with the MNLF. I was a journalist then
covering the Jakarta peace talks and had the privilege
of an inside view of the intricacies of the
Years before that, I had covered MNLF Chairman Nur
Misuari in Timbangan, Sulu, one of the MNLFs training
camps and had gone to another camp in Datupiang,
Maguindanao. The MNLF secretary-general was Muslimin
Sema, now Cotabato City mayor. Even then, the longing
for peace a comprehensive, lasting and just
settlement to decades of Bangsamoro struggle was all
our Muslim brothers and sisters aspired for.
In the 20 years I have travelled in the Muslim areas
in Mindanao, I have witnessed the poverty brought
about by years of government neglect and decades of
intermittent yet bitter fighting. Their right to
self-determination and a genuine autonomy that is
what the Jakarta peace agreement would have
accomplished had the government shown more sincerity
and provided more financial support to the
underdeveloped Muslim areas in the South.
Poverty and injustice these are the root causes of
the Moro struggle which military might will not solve.
The Sulu crisis today has negated the good deeds of
some government officials in recent years of
development projects and livelihood. The renewed
fighting has also claimed the lives of the combatants,
including a dedicated officer, a marine battalion
commander. It has also caused displacement once again
of innocent civilians, always the casualties in an
internal war such as this.
The government must reassess its pronouncements of "No
truce" and weigh the repercussions of its judgement.
Justice must also be given to MNLF Chairman Nur
Misuari who has been languishing in his Sta. Rosa
detention cell for almost four years, with his case
going at a snails pace. The violence in Sulu will
produce no victors, only dead bodies, shattered lives,
and unrealized dreams.
Bombings Trigger Fears of Filipino Muslims
BY REXCEL SORZA, IOL Correspondent
ILOILO CITY, Philippines, February 15
(IslamOnline.net) A member of the Philippine
Congress Tuesday, February 15, accused operatives of
the Philippine and United States military of staging
the bombings in three Philippine cities Monday that
left 11 dead and 130 wounded.
The bombings did not only draw condemnation across the
country, but also worries, particularly among the
Muslim community, as it may renew police and military
raids against innocent Filipino Muslims.
Rep. Crispin Beltran, a member of the House of
Representatives, said the bombings in Makati City in
Metro Manila, and Davao and General Santos cities in
Mindanao, were too well-coordinated, too-well
planned that the Abu Sayyaf group which claimed
responsibility could not have been clever or
well-prepared enough to perpetrate such a
well-executed plan of terrorism.
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