Manila, February 25, 2006 | Before Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced Proclamation 1017, which put the country under a state of national emergency, a spate of unsolved killings and other human rights violations of legal political activists have been on the rise. Human rights organizations and other groups claim that these human rights violations by perpetrators believed to be from the military or Armed Forces of the Philippines-sponsored vigilantes are being done on a national scale and is a direct assault not only to human, civil and democratic rights not only of the victims but on legitimate peoples’ movements as a whole.

Then, there was the declaration yesterday. The proclamation is a response to alleged “conspiracy” between “the elements in the political opposition”, “extreme left” and “extreme right”, which is fuelled by certain segments of the national media to bring down the government of Arroyo. To “save democracy”, Arroyo ordered the violent dispersals of rallies and warrantless arrests of activists by the police. The good news, though, is that all the groups of activists, who were arrested yesterday, were released last night after hours of detention at Camp Karingal.

November 17-18, 2004 at Felis Resort, Davao City

The results of the most recent survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) pointed out a most glaring paradox—hunger in Mindanao, the foodbasket of the Philippines.  Hunger incidence in the region was estimated at a national high of 23 % of the population. Why does hunger persist in a resource-rich region like Mindanao and how should this problem be resolved? These are the questions that policy makers, the private sector, NGOs and social movements alike must urgently and seriously confront.

By Jenina Joy Chavez, Mary Ann Manahan and Joseph Purugganan*

The Philippines government has responded to the recent Social Weather Stations report of rising hunger with promises of food coupons. While admitting that the plan is just a temporary relief, the response belies a lack of understanding of the real problem and is indicative of how unprepared the government is to tackle these issues. To address the worsening problem of hunger and poverty, the government should buckle down to the serious business of revising its food, agricultural and trade policies.


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