Saturday, 26 November 2011

Philippines government not genuinely interested in peace: Vatican news bureau reports

Article by Marc Aupiais

With fighting for years, against the Communist and socio-political brand of separatist Sharia Islam, the Philippine government has increasingly relied on its armed forces. Agenzia Fides has reported claims by a source, a Jesuit priest: who has made certain the Vatican press know that all initiatives at peace are being shelved.

Talks between Catholic and Muslim leaders are no longer being sponsored by the state (under Benigno Aquino) reports the Vatican based news agency. Talks with any real merit at lasting peace with communists and Islamists have been halted- Fides' source claims.

In the South-Eastern island of Mindanao, the largest in the Philippines, and one of the few parts which were unaffected by Catholic Spanish rule, and where Islamists originally fought the United States of America in 1913, and continue to resist the current government of President Aquino, more trouble stirs.

Locals believe that the killing of a local priest is the work not of Sharia Islamists in the area, or of those the state claims to be pursuing in secret. They have held public demonstrations, believing paramilitaries linked to the army are responsible for the killing.

After years of civil war, the powerful Philippine army, is accused of rampant rank and file corruption in the report by Agenzia Fides. The current administration, has clashed with the Catholic church, after it decided it would obey American pressure to attempt population control measures. The Church which caused the downfall of many previous regimes, has also been a major voice for peace. The state is currently at war with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Maoist offshoot: New People's Army. The Moro, the M in MILF, are an ethnic group in the Southern Philippines.

The priest murdered was attempting to protect the land of South-Eastern Mindanao islanders against what Agenzia Fides sees as military linked land grabs. Mindanao, a trouble spot, is the largest of the Philippine Islands.

The Philippines' natural resources include nickel, cobalt, silver, gold, copper. All of these require mining to access. The rights of local populations have often been subjected to the will of well connected individuals in the Philippine state.

The Philippines, is a republic. It has one hundred and one million citizens. It is 80.9 percent Catholic, and 5 percent Muslim according to statistics dating year 2000 provided by the US government.

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