August 2008

August 27, 2008

Even as people are still reeling from events in Lanao del Norte, field reports from our colleagues in civil society continue to be disturbing.  Now that fighting has shifted to Moro areas, we hear of insufficient time given to civilians to vacate their villages before AFP bombardment begins.  We hear of food blockades against internally displaced people.  We hear of NGOs being prevented from delivering urgently needed relief items and media personalities being prevented from covering the humanitarian crisis.  We hear of a high ranking national official of DSWD complaining about the assistance to displaced families (25 kilos of rice, per family, per month) as being too “big”!
Therefore, we remind ALL PARTIES AND COMBATANTS of the Protocol II of the Geneva Conventions on the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts, particularly on the protection of civilian populations.   Civilians enjoy protection from dangers arising from military operations (Art. 13-1).  Neither should they be subjected to attack (Art. 13-2), nor should acts of hostility be directed at places of worship (Art. 16).  Starvation of civilians as a method of combat is prohibited (Art. 14).
We call on United Nations humanitarian agencies, international organizations such as the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and other members of the international community to insist upon their mandate and duty to deliver aid to the victims of conflict.  The concept of Right to Protect (R2P) necessarily includes the duty to protect.
We call on our friends in the media to equally report suffering by ALL communities.  We wish to remind them that 85% of the civilian victims of the 2000 and 2003 all out wars were Moros.   We remind them further of the public’s need to be provided with ACCURATE AND COMPREHENSIVE reports from ALL SIDES to the conflict.  Recall too the writings of Noam Chomsky on manufacturing public consent to support a war by playing up unchallenged claims of successful military operations and attrocities of enemies.
Impartiality!  Neutrality! Non-Discrimination!  These are the basics of International Humanitarian Law.


Please see the following letter regarding the Mindanao situation written by German friends. Mindanao has been used as a political bargaining chip – not least of all by GMA. Whether this is just another attempt to create a “crisis” situation to prolong her stay in power, or it is a situation where the MILF is calling the shots, innocent (and desperately impoverished) citizens are falling victim.

Please write to:

Chief Justice Reynato Puno

Supreme Court of the Philippines

Office of the Chief Justice

Padre Faura St., Ermita, 1000 Manila

Fax no: +632-5268129


President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

Malacanang Palace,

J.P. Laurel St.

San Miguel 1005



(correct address: Dear President)

Telefax: (00 632) 736 2495;

(00 632) 733 2107;

(00 632) 736 1010


Office of the Presidential Advisor on the Peace Process (OPAPP):

Presidential Advisor

Hermogenes Esperon Jr,

7 / F Agustin I Building, Emerald Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City
Tel. Nos. 00636-07-01 to 06 and 636-3801 to 06
Fax No. 00638-2216


Ghazali Jaafar

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)

Vice-Chairman for Political Affairs

Telefax: 0063644290174

Philippine Consulate General in New York
556 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10036 US
(212) 764-1330
Fax: (212) 382-1146


I would like to express my serious concern regarding the current conflict in central Mindanao. Due to the recent outbreak of war in Mindanao more than 70,000 people had become internally displaced and rely on humanitarian aid and on the conflicting parties to stop fighting. I would like to appeal to all actors in the conflict, the MILF, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) as well as local politicians and other armed groups to refrain from the use of violent force and adhere to the agreed peace process.

The Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) recently issued by the Supreme Court has stalled the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA). While I consider this a major setback in the quest for peace, I believe that the Supreme Court shouldn’t allow itself to become a stumbling block in resolving a political conflict that requires a political solution. I therefore appeal to the Supreme Court to lift the TRO and allow the peace process to move forward.

There is a need for continued consultation, transparent dialogue and information on the MOA, not only in Mindanao, but in all of the Philippines. The MOA is the result of 110 consultative sessions between the MILF and the GRP since 2004. It embodies important aspirations of the Bangsamoro struggle, such as the right to self-determination as well as the commitment of the government to address the historic inequalities at the root of the conflict.

It is vital that these aspirations will not be used for any other agenda and that the accomplishments of the peace process will be honoured. Particularly those politicians who may feel threatened by the changes the MOA will bring about should be reminded of the fundamental right to self-determination of the Bangsamoro people as recognized under international law. The GRP should clearly intervene here to prevent further escalation. Inflammatory propaganda and militarisation on behalf of those who may loose from the MOA must not poison the relationship between the people of Mindanao.

With regard to current discussions on a charter change in connection to the MOA, I would like to point out that while there will indeed be a need for comprehensive legislative action with the signing of the MOA, it is premature to pursue these changes before the presidential election in 2010. According to the timeframe of the MOA it will take the parties twelve (12) months after the signing to proceed with the plebiscite and a total of fifteen (15) months to complete the negotiations and resolve all outstanding issues on the Comprehensive Compact. Given this timeframe there won’t be enough time to undertake charter changes via the GRP-MILF talks.

I appeal to all actors in the conflict to listen to the peaceful voices of the civilians and refugees in Mindanao – the Bangsamoro people, indigenous people and migrant settlers alike and to address the grievances at the root of the conflict.

Kind Regards,

So now that I’m here at my parent’s house enjoying the quiet life…so far from the craziness of international political activism (and missing it like I can’t explain!) In the meantime I’m enjoying taking care of my family. Today I made some really good chicken by combining different recipes and fudging around a bit, so I figured I better write down what I did before I forget in case I wanna make it again! Of course, all measurements are approximate

Basil Lime Honey Lemongrass Chicken

about 1.5 lbs. of chicken breast

which I cut into strips (for faster marinating – don’t forget to cut against the grain) about an inch thick and then marinated in:

3 cloves (2 tbsp?) minced garlic

1 tbsp minced ginger

juice of 1 lime

3 stalks of lemongrass (which I cut in half, tied and muddled)

1/4 honey

1/4 c. minced basil

black pepper

I pounded the chicken a bit when it was in the marinade and marinated for about 2 hours.

then, i toased about

2 tbsp sesame seeds in a wok (had some extra, really old sesame seeds around the house)

I stir-fried the chicken on high and took it out when half cooked. Of course, while frying, I put a little salt to bring out some flavor. Then I took out the chicken and  stir-fried 3 stems of scallions just until soft, re-added the chicken and cooked it till it was just about done. Then I added:

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp vinegar

2tsp brown sugar

the sesame seeds

1 tbsp flour

which i had mixed together beforehand to make a sauce. I also aded the rest of the marinade. When it seemed the four had cooked out and the sauce was kinda thick, I added vegetables (some frozen veggies and a can of bamboo shoots that I had onhand) and some cashew nuts. I cooked it till all the vegetables were soft and everything was coated. I tasted it a couple times while it was cooking and added additional salt, soy sauce (it was quite bland as listed, so I actually added a  lot more salt) and pepper.


I served this 2 ways: over plain rice and also as a filler with bihon and rice paper, to make Vietnamese-style summer-roll inspired idea (thanks to my Brisbane Viet Tan peeps!). Both were really really good! I just used whatever vegetables I had on hand, but next time I’d like to try broccoli, cauliflower, baby corn, snow peas, muchrooms…all the usual in Chinese stir fry. I’d also probably add more ginger (my ginger was still frozen and so I had a hard time peeling it, and we were out of ginger powder) and cashews – i only added a handful of cashews to this batch and i think they didnt really lend anything to the dish in their small quantity. I’d also make more sauce on a second attempt – the sauce was really good! Also, now that I think of it I think you’re supposed to add salt to marinades (helps with osmosis?), so i’ll look it up and try it or not accordingly next time.

best of all, the tanglad, basil, and spring onion came fresh from my mommy’s garden (aka growing in random places in the backyard). yay!

As my family watches the opening games of the Olympics without me (ironically, I can convince national policymakers to change major public policy, but my own family is a whole different story), I ask you to take a moment and consider all the reasons why NOT to support the opening games!

Before listing the numerous reasons, please remember that you not watching CAN make a difference, 1) Because even those of us who think we don’t have a lot of political power, even those of us in our comfortable first world homes, have the ECONOMIC power to impact the major coporations that support the growth that China hopes to reap from the games, 2) Because the Nielsen ratings can tell whether or not your tv is tuned to the Olympics station (without you reporting) – everyone, and especially the corporations that have spent major money for advertising as well as the Chinese government, will be watching to see if the many campigns to boycott the Olympics actually have an impact.

(By the way, they just announced Bush is sitting next to Putin and joking around. GREAT!)

The Tiananmen Massacre

Visitors to the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing will be in a city that fewer than twenty years ago was the site of a massacre of innocent civilians by their government. As you enjoy the athletic events and the sights of the city, you may find yourself at street corners, subway stops, in parks or near hospitals where ordinary Chinese men and women were murdered.

US Campaign for Burma

Don’t Watch the Olympic Ceremonies: Human rights activists inside Burma have called on people around the world to not watch the Olympic ceremonies because of China’s support for the Burmese military. You can still support the athletes in what they do, support the Chinese people, and support the Games for what they stand for, but don’t support the Chinese government’s policies.

The Dalai Lama’s Olympic Handshake

The Beijing Olympics should be a moment to bring citizens around the world together. But the Chinese government still hasn’t opened meaningful dialogue on Tibet, or made progress on Burma and Darfur — and global activists’ messages are too often lost in a firestorm of accusations about being anti-Chinese.

Free Tibet

The Chinese government claimed human rights would improve in Tibet and China if Beijing won the right to host the 2008 Olympics. Instead of improving, the human rights situation in Tibet has deteriorated. As Beijing counts down to the Opening Ceremony, the Chinese government is already plotting to punish Tibetans for daring to call for freedom.

Save Darfur

While China continues to be Sudan’s largest economic and diplomatic ally, the genocide in Darfur continues in Darfur. China has done very little to help end the suffering. The Save Darfur Coalition along with our partner groups are working to get China to take action (see our joint statement on China and Darfur) and we need your help but time is running out.

Darfur’s Torchbearer

By revoking the visa of 2006 Olympian Joey Cheek at the very last moment because he had the nerve to speak out about Darfur and the Chinese government’s support for Sudan’s barbarous regime, Chinese authorities guaranteed that the opening of these Games would focus as much on politics as on sports. The burden now is not on China’s critics but on its government.