“We are nearing the boundary between war and peace.” This is how Mohagher Iqbal, chief negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), assesses the status of the armed conflict in Mindanao.
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Undocumented workers are the most vulnerable among migrants. While they are denied legal status and are exploited in so many ways, they are also treated as criminals.
Early last month, Rakman Suleik and his 17-year-old son Samsudin, together with a few others, fled from the fighting between government troops and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Aleosan, North Cotabato. They had evacuated, to safety or so they thought, at the house of a certain Colonel Maguid of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Barangay (village) Nalapaan in Pikit, North Cotabato. But even in the house that had served as their refuge, they would not be safe from atrocities by soldiers.
Even as the Arroyo government publicly declares it is for peace in Mindanao, a National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission conducted in North Cotabato and Maguindanao from Oct. 22-24, 2008 concluded that: “The military offensives in North Cotabato and Maguindanao are carried out under the pretext of pursuit operations against Kato and his group, but these in reality fall within the context of an all-out war.” Even evacuation centers are not spared from the military offensives, the mission said, resulting in the deterioration of the situation reaching the proportion of a “humanitarian crisis”.
Delays in government irrigation projects, and unresolved inquiries and cases of corruption pertaining to these are costing taxpayers millions since 2002. But in the end, it is the small farmers bear the brunt of corruption, said IBON Foundation Research Head Jose Enrique Africa.
From the looks of it, it was obvious that painstaking efforts were exerted to conceal the previous existence of the abandoned military camp. But the cries for justice of the victims of enforced disappearances and their relatives can never be muted as the former camp occupied by the 24th IB of the Philippine Army yielded burnt human bones and other vital evidences proving the claims of escaped torture victim Raymond Manalo that the military was involved in the abduction and torture of UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, and farmer Manuel Merino.
The Arroyo administration has been courting foreign mining corporations to invest in the country. It has repeatedly said that a revitalized mining industry will create more jobs and will boost the local economy. Facts and experience, however, prove otherwise.
Analysts of global economic developments deemed that the US-led ‘war on terror’ will intensify and escalate as a result of the US financial and economic crisis.
By virtue of a 1991 Deed of Transfer between the DND and the DAR, some 6,000 peasants and other residents in a 3,100-hectare area within a military reservation in Nueva Ecija should have acquired ownership of the land they live on and till. But they have not, and now they face the possibility of being driven away from the area.
Just how vulnerable is the Philippines to the effects of the US financial crisis? Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said the Philippines is equipped to withstand the effects of the US financial crisis. But a labor economist thinks otherwise, saying the crisis could result, among other things, in job losses in the Philippines.
Two doctors, one an advocate of community-based health programs and the other a toxicology expert, said that corporate greed, import liberalization, and the lack of priority given by the government to local food production and to ensuring food safety are to be blamed for the entry of melamine-contaminated products in the country.