Posted tagged ‘Philippine state’

FOOD DELIVERY UPDATES IN LIGHT OF NEW MILF-PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT HOSTILITIES

August 16, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Good morning from Manila!

Below is a news item regarding UN efforts aimed at helping out in the provision of food for those fleeing residents affected by the latest rounds of conflicts between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP). Close to 130,000 residents were already displaced by the hostilities that have not even geared up for full battles.

As already reported, the contentious issue centers on the ‘ancestral domain’ for Muslims. There were not much public debates about the matter, though in Mindanao various sectors were invited to participate in the deliberations prior to drafting. The disagreements regarding content and implementation led the MILF forces to withdraw from the peace talks, and proceeded with occupation of villages by their armed force.

Below is a news item regarding UN efforts to assist in the food supply chain for the fleeing residents.

[13 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to yahoo.com database news.]

UN begins airlifting food aid to Mindanao

The United Nations has begun airlifting food to Mindanao to avert a major humanitarian crisis as thousands flee fighting between Muslim rebels and troops, officials said yesterday.

 

Fighting continued as soldiers used artillery and helicopter gun ships to pound rebel positions around towns and villages in North Cotabato, a poor farming province in Mindanao.

The UN’s World Food Program (WFP) has begun airlifting 400 metric tons of rice worth $308,000 to assist 90,000 persons from conflict-affected communities in North Cotabato for at least one month.

The food support is WFP’s response to the request made by the provincial government of the province, with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) still validating the number of the persons affected by the ongoing clashes.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) said more than 129,819 people have been displaced from 42 villages in North Cotabato since fighting began last week.

The refugees are to be provided food support in at least 43 government evacuation centers in the province.

“WFP fully understands that the situation remains fluid, and we will continue to work closely with all concerned to further assess the total number of affected persons and adjust our response accordingly. WFP remains concerned over the growing number of persons displaced by the violence between the armed forces and the MILF,” said Stephen Anderson, WFP country director.

“Many of the affected population are women and children, and we are concerned for their well-being and stand ready to support humanitarian needs. We hope for peace, so that these families can return to their communities,” he said.

Anderson said WFP remains committed to providing support and technical expertise during emergencies and natural disasters.

The NDCC said 43 evacuation centers have been set up for the refugees but these are now overcrowded and fast becoming health hazards.

“This is turning into a humanitarian mess,” Rep. Risa Hontiveros said.

“The refugee crisis is an unacceptable cost of the government’s mismanagement of the peace process. A peace process should lead to the protection of life and property, and yet what’s happening is the opposite,” said Hontiveros, who has called for an immediate halt to the fighting.

Fighting began last week after the Supreme Court ordered the government to suspend plans to establish an extended Muslim homeland in Mindanao.

The decision saw around 1,500 heavily armed renegade Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels take control of mainly Christian villages and towns in North Cotabato.

Commission on Human Rights chairwoman Leila de Lima described the situation in North Cotabato as “serious” and called for an immediate ceasefire.

She told local television that evacuation centers needed urgent supplies of food and medicine for the refugees.

The government has said that the fighting will not disrupt the ongoing peace process and that the Supreme Court decision last week was a “temporary setback.”

Future uncertain

In Pikit, North Cotabato, nine-year-old Rakma Kasanuba sings lullabies to her baby sister as the infant tries to sleep in a makeshift hammock under a guava tree as mortars explode without end in the distance.

Her three other younger sisters sit on the muddy ground guarding their meager belongings while military attack helicopters thunder overhead searching for Muslim separatist rebels 400 meters away in a forested area.

At her tender age, Rakma is a veteran of evacuation camps.

“I don’t know why I am here,” she told AFP. “My family was told by the military to leave because they said Moros (Muslims) were advancing.

“We left at dawn, but my father had to stay behind to protect our house,” Rakma said. “My mother took us here, but she is away to look for food and relatives who were also told to evacuate.”

Rakma and her sisters are among 6,000 people forced to flee their homes in Tacepan, a mixed Christian-Muslim farming hamlet that is one of 22 villages being illegally occupied by a renegade group from the MILF.

In a town’s school, families are tightly packed in small classrooms, with no bedding.

Latrines are overflowing, while goats, cows and other farm animals taken by the refugees crowd the school lawn in a feeding frenzy on what little grass is left.

Though soldiers have been sent to protect them, they are not safe from indiscriminate mortar fire from the enemy side.

Social welfare officer Imelda Balios said urgent appeals for supplies have been sent to the government to avert a bigger humanitarian crisis. – Pia Lee-Brago (Philstar News Service, www.philstar.com)

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MOA BETWEEN GRP & MUSLIM REBELS (MILF)

August 15, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

 

The controversial MOA between the GRP (Philippine government) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which calls for the establishment of a Bangsamoro ancestral dominion or area in Mindanao island, was supposedly signed recently. Detractors were able to delay the signing by petitioning the Supreme Court for a restraining order.

 

Mr. Iqbal, a top official of the rebel group, pronounced thereafter that the MOA is already a done deal, that no Supreme Court order could stop its implementation. Maybe the rebels better prepare statements that would somehow allay the fears of detractors of the MOA, detractors that include Muslim residents of Zamboanga City.

 

Amid the amicable spirit behind the drafting, the non-signing so far had led to new rounds of hostilities in the affected areas. See the MOA highlights for your briefer view.

 

[06 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to yahoo.com database news.]

 

 

Highlights of MOA between government, MILF

 

Philippine Star – Tuesday, August 5

The memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain whose signing today was ordered stopped by the Supreme Court would authorize the so-called Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) to negotiate directly with foreign governments and set up its own police force.

 

Aside from expanded territory, the BJE under the MOA will also be given control over natural resources found within 15 kilometers from the shoreline of BJE territories.

Beyond 15 kilometers, control over key resources like oil and minerals will be shared 75-25 between the BJE and the government.

According to the MOA, the core of the BJE covers the present geographic area of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, including the municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan, and Tangkal in the province of Lanao del Norte that voted for inclusion in the ARMM during the 2001 plebiscite.

The MOA said a plebiscite would be held to decide the possible inclusion of 735 barangays in Isabela City in Basilan, Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur, Lanao Norte, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Zamboanga Sibugay and Palawan.

Under the MOA, the BJE will also establish a system of governance suitable and acceptable to the people under its jurisdiction.

“The parties agree that the BJE shall be empowered to build, develop and maintain its own institutions, inclusive of civil service, electoral, financial and banking, education, legislation, legal, economic, and police and internal security force, judicial system and correctional institutions, necessary for developing a progressive Bangsamoro society, the details of which shall be discussed in the negotiation of the Comprehensive Compact,” the MOA said.

The MOA said the BJE is free to enter into any economic cooperation and trade relations with foreign countries, provided that these alliances will not put the Philippines in conflict with other nations.

“Without prejudice to the right of the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity to enter into agreement and environmental cooperation with any friendly country affecting its jurisdiction, it shall include the option to establish and open Bangsamoro trade missions in foreign countries with which it has economic cooperation agreements and the elements bearing in mind the mutual benefits derived from Philippine archipelagic status and security,” the MOA said.

It also stated that the Philippine government shall “take necessary steps to ensure the BJE’s participation in international meetings and events such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other specialized agencies of the United Nations.”

“This shall entitle the BJE’s participation in Philippine official missions and delegations that are engaged in the negotiation of border agreements and protocols for environmental protection, equitable sharing of incomes and revenues, in the areas of sea, seabed, and inland seas or bodies of water adjacent to or between islands forming part of the ancestral domain, in addition to those of fishing rights,” according to the MOA. – James Mananghaya/Philstar