“The Role of Media in protection of the most vulnerable”

Covering victims of armed conflict: the Mindanao experience

Carolyn O. Arguillas
MindaNews ICRC 14 Oct 11

Who lived where in Mindanao 1894. Areas shaded in red are rich in gold and high-value minerals

Basics
Provinces Philippines 80 Cities 138

data from www.nscb.gov.ph

Mindanao 26*

% 31.25

33

23.91

Population (as of Aug 1, 2007) Philippines Mindanao 88,542,991 21,582,540

% 24.37

Mindanao
18 Lumad ethnolinguistic groups (non-Moro/Muslim IPs) 13 Moro ethnolinguistic groups (Moro/Muslim IPs) 21.5 million out of 101 M (est. 2011) Philippine population Predominanly Christian poulation 17% Moro/Muslims 8.5% Lumads

Images
violence

war

kidnappings

bombings terrorism

poor

massacre

evacuations

hopelessness

Mindanao is
-home to more than half of the country’s armed forces; - home to all Moro liberation fronts (MNLF, MILF) - home to the largest concentration of communist guerrillas (CPP-NPA-NDF) now referred to by the Aquino administration as C-N-N)* - home to the Abu Sayyaf - home to private armies** - breeding ground for military rebels
* CNN is nationwide ** also nationwide

So much more about Mindanao than these

GPH-MILF

2000 “all out war”: nearly a million 2003 Buliok war: a little over 400,000 2008 post-MOA-AD war: 600,000 +++

GPH: Government of the Republic of the Philippines MILF: Moro Islamic Liberation Front

Mindanao’s 600,000 IDPs in 2008 is biggest worldwide

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/02 May 2009) – The internal displacement of 600,000 residents in Mindanao last year due to renewed skirmishes between government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) guerrillas was “the biggest new displacement in the world” out of 4.2 million newly displaced in 2008, the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) said in its April 2009 report launched May 1 in New York.

The number of Mindanao IDPs – 600,000 at the height of skirmishes last year -- is higher than the “massive new displacements” in Sudan (550,000), Kenya (500,000), Democratic Republic of Congo (at least 400,000), Iraq (360,000), Pakistan (over 310,000), Somalia (300,000), Colombia (270,000 to June 2008), Sri Lanka (230,000) and India (over 220,000).

* only involving GPH-MILF displacement

GPH-NDF
nationwide largest concentration of NPA (New Peoples Army) in Mindanao (Compostela Valley/Caraga region) mass displacements

GPH: Government of the Republic of the Philippines NDF: National Democratic Front

Victims of war
*immediate effects of armed conflict

Direct - displaced, caught in crossfire - in evacuation centers - outside evacuation centers (homebased; with relatives)

Victims of war
*immediate effects of armed conflict
Indirect within area *commerce stopped; transport stopped (tricycle, jeepney drivers); schooling stopped, etc.. Indirect outside immediate area: *flow of goods and people affected, etc..

“The victims in Pikit were victims of a calamity decided by fellow human beings. As a manmade calamity, it belongs to humans the decision whether to stop it or to continue it for the sake of the civilian victims. I could have wished that the media had played an adversarial role, as it always claims it (does) in challenging the decision of the government to break the peace by waging another war while the peace talks were going on and while the ceasefire was holding.”
Fr. Roberto C. Layson, OMI Parish priest, Pikit, 2003

“The most tragic story of the 2000 and 2003* wars in the southern and central parts of mainland Mindanao is that both wars, having been waged in the midst of peace talks, could have been prevented if only the public were not kept ignorant by media.”
- Carolyn O. Arguillas, 2006
*the same could be said of the 2008 war

The Armed Conflict and Its Impact
Source: Presentation of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Hermogenes Esperon, former AFP Chief of Staff , 7 August 2008

 1970-1996 – MNLF vs AFP:
 100,000 -120,000 perished,

50% MNLF, 30% AFP, 20% civilian war materiel

 P73B spent by Government on

Cost of War

The Armed Conflict and Its Impact
Source: Presentation of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Hermogenes Esperon, former AFP Chief of Staff , 7 August 2008

 2000 – “All-out-War” in Mindanao cost

the government P20 Million per day or a total of P1.337 Billion during the whole period.
 AFP personnel losses: 431 KIA and

624 WIA

 Damage to infrastructure: P202M

Cost of War

 Damage to agriculture: P124.76M

The Armed Conflict and Its Impact
Source: Presentation of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Hermogenes Esperon, former AFP Chief of Staff , 7 August 2008

 2003 – “Buliok Offensives”  P46.8 M worth of damage to

crops, livestock and fisheries; infrastructure

 P130 M worth of damage to

Cost of War

The Armed Conflict and Its Impact
Source: Presentation of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Hermogenes Esperon, former AFP Chief of Staff , 7 August 2008

AMMO SPENT BY 6TH INF BN DURING BULIOK OFFENSIVE
AMMO TYPE 5.56 MM (Ball) 7.62 MM linked 7.62 MM (Ball) 40 MM (M203) ROUNDS SPENT 212,019 53667 26821 COST P 2.39M P 1.15M P 0.41M P 3.86M P 0.08M P 0.08M P 0.59M

Cost of War

TOTAL 2407 AMMO Hand grenade 126 SPENT356 BY Rifle grenade JUST A CAL 30 LMG 10348 SINGLE CAL 50 HMG (linked) 16967 BATTALION: P CAL 50 (Ball) spotting 20.51M 1200
81 MM Mortar 90MM RR 25MM 799 448 300

P 0.10M
P 2.96M P 3.71M P 8.71M P 0.09M

The (other) killing fields

The Visible Cost of War -Mass evacuation -Civilians, mostly children and elderly, killed in crossfire or die from diseases n evacuation centers -houses, crops, livelihood abandoned -disrupted schooling, disrupted lives, etc..

The Invisible Cost of War - psychological - trauma, hatred, etc… - an even greater divide

Most vulnerable
- children - women - elderly *statistically, bulk of IDPs *where are the men and teenage boys?

Victims have rights, too!
-Universal Declaration of Human Rights
-International Humanitarian Law -UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (UNGPID) -etc..

UNGPID
translated in at least 40 languages including six Philippine languages

Victims have rights, too!
-cultural sensitivity
Cultural/religious practices in the area •e.g. *prayer section *prayer time *Ramadan period

Victims have rights, too!
-cultural sensitivity
Cultural/religious practices in the area •e.g. *toilets

Protecting victims of armed conflict
Reports, photographs, soundbytes, video important sources for immediate response from government, humanitarian agencies, and even warring groups

1. “Ground truthing”
*No substitute to field coverage *Safety measures considered, attempts should be made to reach areas of mass displacement other than those easily accessible

Field visits not just once but more than once; Preferably, post-conflict follow-up (sometimes, in new settlements; sometimes, until the next evacuation)

Joint coverage by Mindanao and Manila journalists
co-convened in 2009: State Of the Bakwits (SOB) Maguindanao, June 30-1 July Revisiting the Bakwits Maguindanao, November 13-15

2. Victims’ rights
*Knowledge of UNGPID, UNDHR, IHL, etc.. Is a must

3. Cultural/Religious sensitivity
(ask, ask, ask) * speak their language; if you can’t get interpreter

4. Statistics
* most difficult to establish especially in early part of mass displacement * complaints of bloated figures (deliberate or not deliberate) *which IDP areas are underserved, unserved, overserved?

5. Link up with civil society, aid agencies, ceasefire monitors
* areas served/visited * problems encountered * actions taken, etc.. * verify reports ; countercheck claims by government and rebels

6. IDPs as victims a second, third, fourth time
*IDPs are usually portrayed as helpless, dependent only on doles from government, humanitarian agencies, politicians * they have coping/survival mechanisms: what are these? How do they cope?
(e.g. sardines in exchange for fresh fish; noodles in exchange for …)

*DIGNITY of the IDPs IDPs are human beings, too Journalists are human beings, too

Thank you! Salamat po! Sukran!/Shukran

Magsukol!
Terima Kasih

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