Popular actress Angel Locsin visits an evacuation center

in Munai, Lanao del Norte in Mindanao

 

 

Posted July 15, 2009

 

 

   
   
   
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Photos courtesy of Suara Bangsamoro Partylist
           
           

 

Tatlong reflections hinggil sa pagbisita ni Angel Locsin sa evacuation center sa Munai, Lanao del Norte

From Pinoy Weekly

http://pinoyweekly.org/new/angel-locsin-bumisita-sa-evacuation-center-sa-munai-lanao-del-norte/

 

Angel Locsin:

Hi guys!

Marami po ang nagtatanong sa akin kung bakit daw po ako pumunta sa Mindanao.
Yung iba po, tinatanong kung may shooting daw po kami dun. Yung iba naman po,
akala kandidato po ako.

Hindi ko po masisisi kung ganun ang expectations lalo na ng mga tagaroon sa mga
dumadayo doon. Kasi pagka-ganitong mga pagkakataon lang daw po sila naaalala…

In fact, yung mga close po sa akin na nakakaalam ng lakad na ito,
dini-discourage po talaga ako para di ko na ituloy. May nagbiro pa nga po sa
akin na may No-Ransom policy daw ang ABS. Pero personal decision ko po ang
pagpunta ko doon, hindi lang po dahil may soft spot ako sa mga Muslim dahil sa
ganitong culture lumaki ang mommy namin, kundi dahil marami po akong katanungan
at gustong matutunan…

In relation po kasi sa commitment ko sa Human Rights Advocacy, especially of
women and children—common notion po sa atin na ang Mindanao, of all regions sa
Pilipinas, ang pinakamagulo at notorious when it comes to human rights violation
because of the armed conflict that is going on. Plus the fact na marami po sa
atin ay may cultural bias against Muslims.

Ang naging motivation ko po dito ay ang mga questions ko kung bakit sila
kinatatakutan na parang mga terorista, bakit may gulo at bakit hindi ito
matapos-tapos, bakit sabi nila very rich daw ang natural resources ng Mindanao
pero bakit marami dun ang mahirap, etc, etc…

Alam ko pong sa dalawang araw lang na stay namin doon ay di ko pa po matututunan
ang lahat kaya pinag-aaralan ko pa rin ang sitwasyon nila at kung ano pong
tulong ang kailangan nila. Pero sa dalawang araw lang na yon, marami po akong
na-realize.

Ilan po sa naging realizations ko ay mga biktima po ang mga kapwa Pilipino natin
doon, hindi po lahat terorista. Muslims at Christians, parehong apektado ng
giyera, at ayon po sa mga tao doon, hindi po totoong Muslims at Christians ang
magkalaban. Ang tunay daw pong problema nila ay poverty, landlessness at
cultural displacement kaya daw maraming nagrerebelde.

Sa interview po namin sa mga taga-evacuation center ng Munai, gusto na po sana
nilang magkaroon na ng kapayapaan para makabalik sa kanilang mga sakahan. Ang
lupa po kasi ang basis ng kanilang economic at cultural activities—dito po
nanggagaling ang kanilang pagkain, ang kanilang mga produkto tulad ng brassware,
potteries at tela—kaya kapag tinanggalan sila ng lupa, parang tinanggal din po
ang kanilang culture, identity at buhay. Kaya sana mai-resume na po ang peace
talks alang-alang po sa mga naiipit sa digmaan.

Doon po naman sa pinuntahan naming peasant Muslim at Christian community sa loob
ng isang cement factory compound, problema nila ang threat na mapalayas sa
kanilang lupain dahil isang foreign corporation po ang umaangkin nito. Sa
ngayon, bago po kayo makapasok sa lugar nila, kailangan pa pong maglog sa mga
security guards ng cement factory, pero sa mga susunod na araw, maaring sila
mismo ay di na makapasok sa kanilang lugar kung hindi po pakikinggan ng mga
kinauukulan ang kanilang pinaglalabang ancestral domain.

Alam ko rin pong wala po akong masyadong magagawa para ma-resolve ang problema
sa Mindanao. Alam ko pong di sapat yung relief or charity work dito, dahil sa
nakikita ko po ngayon, hindi awa ang kailangan nila kundi pagkilala sa kanila
bilang kapwa, bilang taong may karapatan. Yung simpleng pagtanggal sa ating
cultural discrimination, yung simpleng pagpapadama sa kanila na di sila nag-iisa
sa laban nila, malaking bagay po yun sa kanila…

Nakikiisa po ako sa kanila sa panawagan para sa kapayapaan.

GIVE PEACE IN MINDANAO A CHANCE…

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Angela Colmenares:

My Reflections from our Mindanao Immersion:

- There’s a bigger picture and deeper cause of the Mindanao Conflict. Like Angel
said, it is not as simple as a Moro-Christian War.

- I agree that the root cause of insurgency is poverty resulting from feudal
conflicts. This is a problem of both Muslims and Christians all over the
country. Thus, we share a common struggle.

- Cultural displacement follows landlessness. What is even more painful, vasts
of land are exploited by foreign corporations.

- The presence of armed groups (even the military) is a threat to their
security.

- War dehumanizes people. It aggravates poverty and the human rights situation.
We have seen how a simple “lugaw” and bread would cause stampede… While war is
profitable to a few.

- The government should push through with the peace negotiations by seriously
resolving the roots of conflict. There will be no genuine peace when there is no
justice. But since it’s gonna be a long way to resolve this because it involves
structural change, at least pursue first for an immediate ceasefire to protect
the civilians.

- It’s good to study original Filipino cultures before Western domination
distorts it.

(Shall we allow this?)

We should be actively involved!
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Amirah Lidasan:

Where angels fear to tread, Angel Locsin came and earned the love and respect of
the Moro people. On June 26-27, popular actress Angel Locsin visited the
evacuation center in wartorn Munai, Lanao del Norte. Since she and her sister
already released their official reflections on the visit, I hope my story will
help contextualize their visit.

When Angel’s brother-in-law sent me a text message a month ago asking me and my
organization to assist them in a low-profile exposure trip for Angel to an
evacuation center in my province, I was skeptical at first. How can one hide
Angel Locsin from the politicians and military officials who constantly monitor
the remaining evacuation centers in Maguindanao? The route to Datu Piang is
probably the most watched highway, and there were several reports of soldiers
refusing entry to NGOs, media and relief agencies, practically food and
information blockade. Our organization suffered
the same military harassment when we held a national interfaith humanitarian
mission (NIHM) on October last year.

The other option was Munai , the other venue of the NIHM last year where Bayan
Muna Representative Satur Ocampo participated. I immediately informed the
local chapter of Suara Bangsamoro in Iligan City and the Initiaves for Peace in
Mindanao to help us in this endeavor.

When I first met Angel during our briefing in a hotel she stayed in Cagayan de
Oro City, she explained at length why it had to be low-key. She wants to digest
the story of the people, wants to give the one’s she would be talking to the
impression that she did not go there as a film star but as a person, as a
countryman. She need not explain; Angel is known for her women’s rights
advocacy.

But of course, our partners in the local government unit would interpret this
differently. In Iligan City, we were met by the Mayor and his father, the
former mayor. We again reiterated our request – no media, no military escorts
and no broadcast of her presence. But as soon as we got to our car, we saw
several pick-up trucks with loads of people with cameras and police escorts
which will become part of our convoy. We took the diversion road that traversed
Kauswagan municipality where a 6×6 truck with loads of soldiers joined the
convoy.

I was surprised to see a paved road in Kauswagan extending to Munai. Earlier at
Iligan City, the mayor’s father was telling Angel that they needed a
farm-to-market road that would help bring progress in his municipality and a way
to resolve poverty in the area that has caused the insurgency in Munai. The
road was wide and thick and kilometers long, complete with military
detachements, APC tanks and presence of soldiers who were standing by the road
every after five to ten kilometers.

Why, war has not restricted development in the area! I then wondered if the
construction started during the war, and if USAID or GEM was responsible for its
construction. No politician or local government agency would release millions of
pesos for a road that thick.

When we got to the municipal hall in Bgy. Tabuk, where the mayor placed all the
displaced persons in Munai and Kauswagan municipalities since last year, it was
jampacked with people and school children holding streamers welcoming Angel.
There goes Angel’s low-key visit.

Inside the Mayor ‘s office, the young politician asked why of all places Angel
chose his municipality to visit. Previously we briefed Angel that among the
five provinces affected by the war last year, Lanao del Norte is probably the
most controversial one. There was a public outcry against Commander Bravo in
suspicion of ordering members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to burn
civilian villages, which was fueled by national and local politicians who
distributed firearms to Christian residents.

I guess the mayor did not fully understand that if Angel has visited Munai as an
actress, he would have to pay her millions of pesos to be able to give in to his
request later that she come to the stage at the multipurpose hall where his
father has prepared a program for Angel. Angel had to give in to that request,
in exchange for a closed-door interview with the victims at the evacuation
center.

She barely had time to interview health and education officers at the mayor’s
office. People were pouring in at the tiny mayor’s office at the behest of the
mayor’s aunt who was never contented with one shot taken with Angel. She only
got facts like out of the 11,000 population, two thousand children got sick of
measles, pneumonia and other common diseases brought about by being camped for a
long time in a classroom and bunk houses. There were 50 cases of children
afflicted with measles and an unaccounted number of deaths due to diseases.

Angel finally relaxed when she was inside the bunkhouse talking to a family from
Bgy. Ramain. With only three young lady volunteers from the DSWD to accompany
us in the interview, Angel was able to piece together the incident last year.
Her personal thoughts in her blog reflected mostly her conversation with Sultan
Diyadapon Bayabao, who told her how hard it was to go back to Ramain to farm
because of the military presence in the area. Bgy. Ramain is one of the 26
villages affected by the war. The mayor placed all evacuees in front of his
municipal hall which was a kilometer away from an infantry battalion tasked to
ferret MILF forces in Munai.

While Angel was conversing with victims, youth volunteers were distributing
blankets to the evacuees–a personal gift from Angel. The volunteers were mainly
from youth groups based in Iligan City such as League of Filipino Students, Liga
ng Kabataang Moro, Anakbayan, local chapters of the College Editors Guild of the
Philippines and National Union of Students of the Philippines and the
STAND-MSU-IIT .

She also provided lugaw for the evacuees. She wanted to personally distribute
the gifts and join in the parlor games for kids prepared by the youth groups,
but the presence of so many people prevented her from exposing herself outside
of the bunkhouse.

At two in the afternoon, Angel had to say goodbye to the people of Munai. We
did not inform all our escorts of our next stop. We wanted to provide Angel a
complete picture of the struggle of Moro farmers and residents in Lanao del
Norte, and so we took her to the home of Sultan Macasalong Sarip in Iligan City
where he is battling for land rights with an multinational cement firm that
built a factory blocking entrance to his home. Although tired due to exhaustion
and lack of sleep, Angel listened to the impassioned story of Sultan and his
family.

Sultan’s home is no different with the bunkhouses of IDPs in Munai. Sultan never
finished the construction of his home due to lack of funds. He told the history
of his family’s land, and how he gave parts of his land for some Bisaya settlers
to live in but he never counted that the construction of a cement factory would
be the one who will force him out of his land.

In her blog, Angel mentioned the importance of land for the Moro people,
especially the likes of the two Sultans who farm the lands that they own. Her
visit marked the reality of the contradiction in a Moro society – that while we
call ourselves Sultans and Bai, we are not the rich and influential families
that our ancestors were. There is no more sultanate system that gives credence
to the bloodline of the royal families, nor lands to claim territory and
economic subsistence.

Angel asked why the land is rich but the people are poor. We told her that land
ownership was monopolized by rich Moro and Christian warlords who got rich from
selling their lands to foreign corporations or taking partnership in plantation
businesses. She was exposed to these plantations when she did a film where she
played a pineapple picker in Bukidnon.

We told her about the land laws that legalized landgrabbing of Moro lands by the
Philippine government in the name of national interest such as mining and
plantations. We told her that the incessant military operations, aerial
bombardment and the perennial displacement of people have destroyed the
livelihood of the people. We told her how evacuees became captives in their own
land, as they were used by national and local government as a selling point to
multinational donors and relief agencies.

While it is true that her two-day visit cannot give a complete picture of the
problems in Mindanao, her one-day exposure to war-torn Moro areas has opened a
lot of realizations for her, and for us too. As Atty. Beverly Musni of INPEACE
put it – when movie stars come down from heaven, they experience the same
problems, too. And that’s what made Angel go down to Mindanao. She went down
to the masses, ate and conversed with them. And we know, that was not for
show.

Angel is known for her political convictions advocating for women and children
rights. She lives the character that she plays, the heroine of fantaseryes.
But only a movie star like her who lives in real life, can empathize with
victims and can bravely call for a stop to war and the resumption of peace
talks – and mean it.

Larawan mula kina Locsin, Colmenares at Lidasan.

*Si Angel Locsin ay tanyag na aktres ng ABS-CBN Channel 2. Kasalukuyang tampok
siya sa teleserye na “Only You” sa naturang estasyon. Si Angela Colmenares ay
kapatid ni Angel at miyembro at dating nominado sa Kabataan Party-list noong
2007. Si Amirah Ali Lidasan ay tanyag na lider-Moro at tapagtaguyod ng
kapayapaan at karapatan ng mga Moro. Lider siya ng Suara Bangsamoro at Moro
Christian People’s Alliance.

 

     
     
     
     
           
     
     
     

 

EU ups aid to alleviate deteriorating condition of civilians in Mindanao
By Michaela P. del Callar and Gina Peralta-Elorde
07/15/2009

Tribune

The European Commission (EC) has allotted an additional 3 million euros or about P200 million for humanitarian aid to help ease the "deteriorating" condition of more than 300,000 civilians displaced by the ongoing armed conflict between government troops and Muslim secessionist rebels.

In a statement from Brussels, the EC, which is the policy-making body of the European Union, raised its concern over the displaced civilians’ condition after a report by its humanitarian aid experts who recently monitored and assessed the situation in the troubled Southern Philippine region."More than 300,000 people are internally displaced in Mindanao, most of them living in very difficult conditions in evacuation centers, at relocation sites or with host families," the EC reported.

The assessment-mission report prompted the EC to approve on Tuesday a 3-million euro humanitarian aid to assist the most vulnerable people affected by the hostilities between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mindanao.

The assistance is actually on top of the 6.5 million euros the EC gave in October and December 2008, and the 3 million euros in rehabilitation assistance that it provided in October 2008.

"The Commission’s humanitarian aid is entirely needs-based and our support is necessary to tackle the deteriorating humanitarian situation of the many displaced on the island," the EC said.

EC’s relief assistance covers food aid and nutritional surveillance, including feeding programs for children, as well as basic health care, water and sanitation, shelter, protection and psycho-social activities for displaced children who rarely attend school. It will be implemented over a nine-month period.

 

All funds will be channeled through the EC’s Humanitarian Aid department under the responsibility of Commissioner Louis Michel. Relief projects are implemented by non-governmental organizations, specialized UN agencies and the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement.

"The internal conflict in Mindanao does not get much attention in the international media. But the people who are in need there can be assured of our attention. The Commission’s humanitarian assistance complements the aid efforts by the government of the Philippines as well as contributions from other international donors," Michel said.

The EU is one of the country’s largest providers of development assistance and aid, particularly in Mindanao. It has provided support to alleviate the plight of tens of thousands of villagers displaced by the fighting between troops and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front starting in August last year.

Meanwhile, in central Mindanao, local police operatives were in hot pursuit of a still unidentified man responsible for the July 5 blast near a church building in Cotabato City that claimed five lives and injured 50 others.

The police had just released a copy of sketch of the suspect, which an agent of the National Bureau of Investigation had prepared. According to the police, the suspect stands between 5’4" and 5’7" in height, of medium built, with dark complexion and around 30 years old.

Post-blast investigators also reconstructed the cellphone-controlled IED and found it to be made an 81-mm mortar projectile packed with two-inch nails to enhance fragmentation, based on fragments recovered and chemical analysis conducted by the crime laboratory.

In Camp Crame, Senior Supt. Leonardo Espina, police spokesman, said authorities in Region 12 and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao have all been alerted to hunt suspect.

The Cotabato City government raised a P2-million reward for the suspect’s arrest.

 

           
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