Thursday, March 06, 2003

Why the US is in the Philippines...

...more specifically Mindanao. The Philippines has always been a key port to access most of Asia. Mindanao has always been the land of resources from fertile growing, mining and logging, which is why Mindanao has always been up for economic grab. Frankly, population or multi-national companies have already used up most of the resources in all the other islands, which leaves Mindanao (where by the grace of mother nature never sees the devastating monsoon storms that the rest of the Philippines gets). Much of the resources reaped in Mindanao, don't stay in Mindanao. Much of the wood, for instance, is sent to Japan and Hong Kong.

Yet Mindanao has never really been allowed a voice of their own in Manila where the seat of government sits. The Congresspeople who are "elected" to Manila from Mindanao are not from Mindanao, they're transplants from the north usually Christians, who come down and buy themselves a seat in the senate.

In addition, the Philippine government has a history of using the turmoil (even creating some of the turmoil) in Mindanao in order to justify military occupation. When anything happens in Mindanao (murder, robbery, bombing), the newspapers automatically declare it was some Moro rebel, guaranteed, even if the article says that the police have no evidence as to who did the deed and that no group has claimed responsibility for it. When there is peace, people are empowered to live their lives, which means that outside forces have less power over them. War allows people to live and fear and cling to anyone who might alleviate that fear. Both sides, rebels and the government, use that.

Leny Strobel posts a couple of opinion articles on the subject:
First article:

an excerpt:
These are indications that the Abu Sayyaf, through Sali [a government plant in the rebel group], is once again being used by the administration and the military to sabotage Mindanao, not just the peace process. By keeping the island in perpetual conflict, the
Manila government can easily manipulate the situation to benefit those who have designs on the resources of Mindanao.

Second article:

an excerpt:

These conflicting statements nonetheless, the emergence of this new
self-proclaimed terrorist group could not have been better timed, as they
were broadcast amid growing public opposition to the new Balikatan
(shoulder-to-shoulder) joint military operations between U.S. and
Philippine troops.

The emergence of Al-harakatul Al-Islamiya tends to bolster the perception
of a growing local network of terrorism revolving around the Abu Sayyaf
bandit group. And these perceptions of growing terrorism will surely be
used to the hilt by both the Bush and Macapagal-Arroyo governments to press
the case for continuing and even escalating Balikatan operations, which
claim as their target the Abu Sayyaf terrorists.

In the end, it is the people (the civilian lives) that pay the price, even though they are the ones everyone says they are trying to protect. They are the ones who must leave their homes and gather at refugee camps or in cemetaries praying for the spirits to protect them from stray bullets.

This was a forward from JoeyA via his yahoogroup from filmmaker Marilou Diaz-Abaya, whose film "Bagong Buwan" (New Moon) won critical acclaim in telling the story of Mindanao from the perspective of people who stand in the middle.

Dearest Joey,
Assalamu alaikum!
I went back to Pikit last month, just when our "fallen" ANGIE bombed
In Pikit, many bodies were buried, many prayers were offered, songs
sung, stories told. All this while the majestic Full Moon was
violated by OV-10's hovering above us, more tanks drove up and an
entire battalion passed by. As always, there were two wars being
waged --- one over "sovereign" territory, the other over the Human
Spirit. In one battlefield, armed men were fighting to defend
ancestral land; in the other battlefield, women, children and the
elderly were fighting to preserve Hope.
But the profoundest event which prevailed over everything I witnessed
was a young woman who gave birth to a healthy baby girl right in the
middle of an evacuation center cramped with more than 3,400 victims
of war, 70% of them little children. In a matter of hours, both
mother and child were cleaned, breastfeeding and smiling.
I'm never very sure what God has in mind, but now I am even more
acutely aware of the complexity and power of His Grace.
Prose fails me now, and I don't have another Bagong buwan to shoot,
so an Ode to relieve me of grief:

an Ode of nine haikus

black Monsters roaring
Sun eclipsed by metal blades
circling for the kill

bombs and bullets freed
to slaughter bees in their nests
ants too in their hills

virgin pastures raped
beneath black boots and slippers
scarecrows weep then die

flesh torn from fruit tress
marshlands scorched in fires of blood
Earth hemorrhaged by hatred

goats bleat, babies cry
both Mothers' breasts gone dry
Homeland turned to ash

brown leaves, brittle souls
ripped apart, away, again,
in cycles of War

when day breaks, night falls
but there --- the New Moon --- a hope
one light re-kindled

warriors guided home
by crickets' voices calling
Fathers! Husbands! Sons!

smoke becomes cool mists
as valleys rise to mountains
see ? --- white clouds of Peace


When all else fails, it is poetry that delivers Hope and Peace.

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