Foreword to Primed and Purposeful: Armed Groups and Human Security Efforts in the Philippines
decades of internal conflict in the Philippines have taken their toll.
The costs of the war include not only a considerable number of direct conflict
deaths and casualties, but also the continuing insecurity that has hampered
development efforts, trapping people in poverty. Civilians have suffered most.
Violations of human rights and international humanitarian law have been
perpetrated by combatants on all sides. The climate of fear created, and the
militarization and rule of the gun that accompanies conflict, have stood in the
way of the ongoing democratization process, begun with such hope in the 1980s
at the end of the Marcos’ dictatorship.
and light weapons fuel the violence in the Philippines. They are widely
available and, sadly, put to wide use—not only in combat but in the hundreds of
political murders that have taken place this decade. There is an urgent need to
address weapons proliferation in the Philippines—and it cannot await the
outcome of stop-again/start-again peace talks.
is therefore both timely and necessary. It provides an objective analysis of
the issues underlying the ongoing conflicts, and of the interests and modus operandi of the parties involved.
Neither romanticising nor demonising the various armed groups, the analysis
points to ways to engage these groups with a view to promoting human security.
It situates such efforts by providing the historical context, so essential to
understanding the motives of the groups and why conflict persists in the Philippines.
publication arrives at a critical time for the Philippines. History suggests that
the run up to elections in 2010 will lead to a cyclical heightening of levels
of political violence. But it also
provides an opportunity—a new administration must prioritise peace
efforts. To break the current impasse,
uncommon levels of political will and candour on all sides of the negotiating
table are required.
no grounds for despair. Much of the analysis in this publication has been prepared
by or is based on research done by local Filipino researchers and activists.
The rigour and creativity they have shown in unpacking the problems and
proposing solutions proves, to me at least, that solutions can be found, and
that Filipino civil society will lead in that endeavour. The international
community has to date been largely indifferent or hopelessly compromised in its
approach to conflicts in the Philippines.
It must unite behind these local actors, who have waged a long battle for peace
and against the further militarization of their country.
Author Ends and Means—human rights approaches to armed
groups (ICHRP, 2000)