The State of Moro Human Rights under President Noynoy Aquino

CONTINUING POVERTY,

INJUSTICE AND IMPUNITY

When President Aquino assumed into power, he promised a different Mindanao. His Mindanao 2020 boasts of a plan to push for agricultural development in Mindanao by transforming it into a modern agricultural center for self-sufficiency and be competitive.

Three SONA’s (State of the Nation Address) after, Mindanao remains poor. Based on the latest official poverty statistics released by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), 36% of the country’s poorest families live in Mindanao.

The country’s three poorest regions are in Mindanao – CARAGA (39.8%), ARMM (38.1%), and Zamboanga Peninsula (36.6%).  People in the ARMM has highest cost of living (more than P1,287 ) among all regions in the Philippines, but they only get P232 minimum wage(18% of the cost of living).*

This year, Mindanaoans suffered long hours of brownouts, yet compared to other countries, we were paying the highest electricity rates in Asia.  We were blamed for the power crisis yet the national government is not shelling out bigger budget for Mindanao. Instead, they implemented the dole-out Conditional Cash Transfer or Pantawid Pampamilya Program whose budget came from World Bank loans.

In Mindanao, the foreign and local businessmen and landlords are the ones cashing in on the resources of Mindanao.  The government has given permits for mining, exploration of oil and natural gas reserves, operations of coal-fired power plants, and expansion of agricultural plantations – which have further pushed the people into poverty and landlessness due to displacement.

*Padilla, A. (2012, April 15). A Radical’s Nut: Notes on Philippine Economy and Politics. Retrieved from arnoldpadilla.wordpress.com: https://arnoldpadilla.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/mindanao-power-is-more-expensive-than-asias-major-cities/

In commemoration of the 11 years of “State of Lawlessness” and Military Crackdown in Basilan, Sulu and Zamboanga – we invite you to attend the march rally on July 13, 2011 to the Basilan Provincial Jail in Isabela City.

The military and their CAFGU’s and CVO’s are employed to guard these business establishments, militarizing not only the countryside but urban dwellings as well.  The economic interests of the US government are ensured by deploying US troops, setting-up “temporary” bases and conducting successive military exercises in Mindanao.  War mongering against China is but a front to his subservience to US politico-military interests in Asia.

Under the guise of counter-terrorism, the people of Mindanao are held hostage by business interests.  Communities who defy military presence are tagged as terrorist havens, residents as supporters. Communities are bombed and residents displaced purportedly to wipe out terrorists in the area.

Since 2001, more than 200 have been arrested and detained – accused as Abu Sayyaf members. Instead of reviewing security policies that discriminates Moro people, or put a stop to militarization and bombardment in the communities, Aquino called for an “All-Out Justice” which only intensified human rights violations in Moro areas.

In Aquino’s time, the wheels of justice remain slow.  Despite incarceration, the Ampatuan family continue to wield power in Maguindanao.  Adding to the death toll Maguindanao Massacre victims are state witnesses against the Ampatuan family.

There is a continuing reign of impunity as perpetrators of human rights violations remain scot free, while civilians and human rights defenders rot in jail. Aquino is no different with Arroyo in implementing the US counter-insurgency guide.  Under his watch, two foreign NGO workers were killed while several activists are being arrested, detained and killed.

We pin our hopes in the peace negotiations, yet the Aquino administration continue to disregard previous agreements and push new agenda that gloss over the root-cause of the problem and only prolong the talks.

Let us expose the true situation of our communities and oppose state policies that continue to violate and deny our rights.

KHADIDJA BABAYE

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