Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Philippines: Massacre in Mindanao

Yesterday I blogged about my work documenting human trafficking in The Philippines, and today I woke to news about a masacre in Mindanao. To say the least, I was saddened to hear about the recent violence there.

News agencies report that more than 45 people were killed in the remote town of Datu Abdullah Sanki in Maguindanao.According to reports,100 armed men believed to be supporters of the vice-mayor's political opponent attacked a convoy on their way to register the candidacy of the Vice-Mayor for the gubernatorial post in the coming 2010 elections.

For decades, elections in Mindanao have been fraught with problems of violence and fraud. My recent assignment with the Asia Foundation was to document the work they are doing to help facilitate violence free elections.

While in Mindanao, I accompanied The Asia Foundation's staff on a meeting with commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in their heavily guarded encampment, near Cotabato. The Asia Foundation is working with MILF to try to broker a peace agreement among the conflicting factions. (Today the MILF issued a statement condemning the recent killings).

I also documented several pre-election seminars, which The Asia Foundation was conducting, aimed at preemptively mitigating election violence.

The situation in Mindanao is complex, with many political and religious groups all vying for position and power.  Organizations like The Asia Foundation play a key role in helping to remedy this volatile situation by bringing key players together and encouraging dialog, but unfortunately, despite their best peace building efforts, tragedies like today's incident, still occur.

With the international spotlight now temporarily on Mindanao, I hope that more international attention will be paid, and perhaps additional strides will be made to help this troubled region.


tavo said...

Hi Karl,
It's refreshing to read your blog. Like you, those of us who work for and in the Philippines are shocked and sad by the news. Thanks for doing the work you do. By helping organizations (like The Asia Foundation or EDC for that matter) to promote their work, it gives the opportunity to others to hear positive happenings in areas affected by conflict and poverty, something much needed to keep the spirit up and strong. Hope all is well with you.

Karl Grobl said...

Hi Gustavo!
Thanks for the nice message, but actually, you guys are doing all the important stuff, I'm just a guy with a camera documenting the programs that you work so hard to design, implement and manage. My hat is off to you all the NGO workers in the US and abroad who have the motivation, tenacity and desire to make a real difference in the lives of people less fortunate than us! Bravo to you my friend! Keep up the great work at EDC, your job is more important now than it ever has been. Cheers, Karl