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Philippine Counterinsurgency on Mindanao Fuels Civilian Displacement March 26th, 2015
Humanitarian agencies are struggling to cope with a growing number of people displaced by fighting between government forces and a Muslim insurgent group on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, says more than 120,00 have sought shelter in public buildings or informal camps since fighting broke out in January between government forces and rebels from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a splinter group of the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Provision of food, water and latrines is proving to be a major difficulty. Meanwhile, the fighting has disrupted the rice harvest, which will lead to further food shortages for affected families.
Thousands rally for peace in southern Philippine city of Cotabato February 12th, 2015
Activists in the Philippines have urged government to pass legislation, and formalize an end to decades of war.
UCA News, an independent news source on Asia, reported that around 20,000 people held a pro-peace rally in the southern Philippine city of Cotabato on Thursday. Participants were calling for for the immediate passage of legislation to formalize the peace process in Mindanao and end almost four decades of Moro rebellion. Passage of the legislation has been threatened by the death of at least 67 people, 44 of whom were police commandos, in a bungled raid against suspected terrorists in the town of Mamasapano on January 25.
In the cities of Marawi and Davao, also on the island of Mindanao, peace activists join condemning the calls for war, saying the passage of the BBL “is the only solution for lasting peace.”
“We sympathize with those who perished in Mamasapano, but we should not make it a reason to abandon the peace process, abandon the BBL, and make millions more including helpless children, orphans, women and elderly suffer from the horrors of another all-out war,” said Ustadz Mauladdin Sagapan, who led a group from the religious sector in Davao Oriental to the rally in Davao City.
Philippine-MILF Peace Treaty Signed April 3rd, 2014
The Philippine government and the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed a peace agreement on March 27th that aims to formally end four decades of war in the southern Philippines region of Mindanao. The conflict killed more than 100,000 people.
The result of 17 years of negotiations, the “Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro” has been described by government peace negotiators as a “partnership” based on “shared aspirations to heal the wounds of conflict, enable meaningful autonomy for the Bangsamoro, and nurture peace and development in Muslim Mindanao.”
The peace agreement foresees the creation of an autonomous region for the Muslim population to be located in the southern Mindanao region. It will have a power-sharing agreement with the central government, allowing its own leadership to control most of its own natural resources and revenues. Elections are to be held there by mid-2016.
Stations of the Forest March 10th, 2014
We would like to thank the Columban Fathers for the powerful Stations of the Forest video. It is a compelling narrative of the destruction of the forest that has ruined ecosystems from the Philippines to Brazil – a destruction that imperils the world.
Following the format of The Stations of the Cross this prayerful resource laments the stages in the death of part of God’s Creation. It incorporates issues related to rainforest destruction: extractive industries, loss of biodiversity and climate change.
A Booklet accompanies the DVD, providing the script, an agenda for meetings, a reflection on the Stations, and prayers. (download booklet here)
Philippine Oblate Archbishop Quevedo Named to the College of Cardinals January 17th, 2014
Pope Francis has named a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Archbishop Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato to the College of Cardinals. Cardinal-designate Quevedo represents the large island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines, which experiences all the major problems facing the Philippines, including poverty, peace and justice issues and the complex and often difficult relationship between Christians and Muslims.
The rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front said the elevation of the cardinal-designate is a “welcome development”. “It’s good for peace efforts in Mindanao,” said rebel spokesman Mohagher Iqbal. In a 2003 paper titled “Injustice: the Root of Conflict in Mindanao,” Quevedo said the root cause of the Moro rebellion in the southern Philippines was “injustice” to the Moro people’s “identity, political sovereignty, and integral development”.*
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Philippines’ Foreign Debt Payments Dwarf Relief Aid After Typhoon Haiyan December 20th, 2013
More than a month after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, the country has paid approximately $900 million in debt repayments—more than twice as much as it’s received in pledged aid from countries around the world to support the recovery effort. The Philippines government will spend a total of $6.7 billion on debt repayments this year alone, some of which originates from the corrupt and abusive regime of Ferdinand Marcos, who was responsible for the deaths of more than 3,000 Filipinos and the torture of 35,000.
Jubilee USA is calling for a major shift in debt policy vis a vis the Philippines. “The World Bank and international lenders have yet to cancel the debts that fueled Marcos regime corruption. While Filipinos were tortured and lived in poverty, we watched Marcos’s wife accumulating one of the world’s largest shoe collections,” said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network. “If these debts were cancelled they could rebuild the Philippines and safeguard the country from the impacts of climate change.”
The death toll from Typhoon Haiyan is now at more than 6,000 people, while nearly 2,000 people remain unaccounted for. Meanwhile, more than 4 million people have been displaced. ”The World Bank and other international lenders must be subject to an independent debt audit,” said LeCompte. “It’s also critical that lenders offer unconditional grants to the Philippines rather than loans that will further drive the country into poverty.”