Category: Top Stories

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”.

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.

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.