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The Philippines Gov’t Armed 13,000 People to support of the Army

The philippines Gov’t is approving the distribution of 13,000 shotguns to the public in support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Please pray that wisdom will overrule the current state of this decision.

STATEMENT OF THE MINDANAO PEOPLES CAUCUS (MPC)
26 August 2008

More to Worry About 13,000 Shotguns for Civilians in Mindanao

AMID growing insecurity and communal violence in conflict areas in
Mindanao, the government is now unleashing another stealth move by
allowing Secretary Ronaldo Puno of the Department of Interior and
Local Government (DILG) to arm conflict-weary civilians with 13,000
shotguns.

The reason for this, Sec. Puno says, is to repel Muslim rebels in the
provinces of North Cotabato and Lanao as a result of the frenzy last
August 18 which killed 35 people according to the National Disaster
Coordinating Council (NDCC). Another reason, says Chief Supt. Nicanor
Bartolome, spokesman of the Philippine National Police (PNP), is
there’s a need to address the hostilities committed by the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) base commands led by Ustadz Ameril
Umbra Kato and Abdulrahman Macaapar in the war-affected
municipalities.

As of August 23, one thousand fully-loaded shotguns were already
distributed to ‘auxiliary police units’ in Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao,
Northern Mindanao, and Socksargen regions. However, the PNP admits
that this new unit of civilian volunteers will still have to undergo a
selection process and rigid training.

We, members of the Mindanao People’s Caucus (MPC), see this as a
desperate move, and a very dangerous move given the anger, fury, and
rage of the people affected by the conflict after the stalled signing
of the GRP-MILF Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD).
Arming the civilians is like pouring more gasoline to a blazing house,
fueling more animosity between Christians and Muslims, and
‘Balkanizing’ Mindanao. This move is highly divisive and deceptive and
could only fan Christian-Muslim conflict. Arming civilians is also
localizing conflict and thus encouraging communal violence.

If at all there is any legal basis to funnel more arms to Mindanao, it
should be on the notion that the weapons will be given to the Armed
Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and PNP and not to civilians. Shotguns
for civilians is like pawning them in the war front and sacrificing
their lives in the war zones. Is government already relinquishing its
constitutional and moral mandate to protect its citizens? Is the AFP
and PNP already saying we could not protect the civilians anymore and
that is why each one should now carry his/her own shotgun? Where is
the rule of law given the obfuscating hostilities at the heart of the
Bangsamoro Homeland?

War histories are full of gory lessons about utilizing civilians to
beef up military forces. Such strategy is a brutal military and police
campaign in Mindanao—a region that has become a war laboratory in the
Philippines. We denounce distributing more guns to Mindanao, we
denounce violence, and we condemn the escalating conflicts. While
there is a need to pursue the peace process, we appeal for sobriety
and sanity on both government and MILF in trying to address a
political problem.

We smell blood in arming civilians, we smell the rise of animosity,
prejudice and hatred. Arming the civilians with 13,000 shotguns is
another layer of collateral damage in Mindanao and opens up a dim
alley for human rights violations. We need to stop the reemergence of
Ilaga and Barakuda, fanatical groups of armed Christians and Muslims,
who claimed thousands of lives during the 70s due to the successful
hate campaign and divide and rule tactic of the martial law regime.

We call on our religious leaders for them to help bring down the
violence. We urge them to be vigilant on moves that tend to capitalize
on faith to sow division and mistrust among believers.

MPC, as a tripeople network which has been espousing dialogue among
the peoples of Mindanao, will never allow a recurrence of animosity
amongst Muslims and Christians. We shall double our efforts to save
the gains of the peace process and preserve the unity and solidarity
that we have developed among Christians, Muslims, and Lumads.

Let the rule of law prevail, not the rule of the gun.