International Report slams Philippines over Mindanao

Rexcel Sorza, IOL Correspondent

ILOILO CITY, April 26 ( – An international network of non-governmental organizations lambasted in its annual report released Monday, April 26, the Filipino government over its failure to end the decades-old crisis in Mindanao. "As long as the government talks peace but makes war, and as long as the economic model does not recognize the need to battle against inequality and poverty, human security will remain a remote possibility," said Social Watch.

The report, a copy of which was obtained by, lamented that "the war in Mindanao waged by government forces against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, is nowhere near reaching a decisive and peaceful resolution."

President Gloria Arroyo said in her election campaign that she supported a federal form of government through constitutional change, saying that it could speed up the realization of a lasting peace and development in Mindanao.

She argued that through federalism, Mindanao would have a greater chance of achieving economic development and lasting peace because it will have an autonomy in charting its own destiny.

However, the Social Watch said that the "most comprehensive proposals that take into account the political, economic and social dimensions of the conflict have come to nothing due to the government’s desire to defeat the insurgency by limitary means".

"Time and results have proven that the military solution does not work," maintained the report, drafted by Isagani Serrano, vice president of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement and co-convenor of Social Watch-Philippines.

Waiting Polls

The group is banking on the May 10 polls to see changes in the country’s socio-economic and political landscape.

"Much depends on whether the electoral process and its outcome are seen and accepted as legitimate, honest and fair," the report pointed out. Still, it remains rather pessimistic.

"This will be hard to achieve, given the widespread poverty and a disastrous fiscal situation, combined with increasing mistrust of the government and government officials and widespread insecurity due to kidnappings and war".

The report keeps track every year of progress and regression in the path towards eradicating poverty and achieving gender equity, a promise made by governments at the United Nations in 1995 and reaffirmed in the year 2000 in the largest gathering ever held of world leaders.

Poverty & Debts

Social Watch said the Filipino government "is incapable of confronting the challenge of widespread poverty and inequality.

The soaring budget deficit, poor tax collection, and the debt rap have left the state all but paralyzed with respect to meeting the needs of the poor and the social service networks".

Recognizing that the country "probably will not collapse because of poverty and inequality," it warned that " continuing failure of the government to solve these and other related problems could make the current political unrest and instability turn nasty".

Social Watch went on to say that much remain to be done as the government "has fallen short of its promise to translate its international commitments into action at the local level".

Social Watch was created around the idea that unless citizens monitor the commitments made by governments they will not be met.

The international network was informed by national citizens' groups aiming at following up the fulfillment of the internationally agreed commitments on poverty eradication and equality.

These national groups report, through the national Social Watch report, on the progress - or regression- towards these commitments and goals.

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