The smiling soldiers of Basilan

Human rights advocates were uneasy to be with armed soldiers at the peace summit here last week, the reason why organizers invited soldiers to be around without high powered firearms. Law enforcement agencies — the Army and the police — gladly obliged.


At the Datu Dizal auditorium, the venue of the Fourth Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement, a small sign was posted on the gate: “This is a peace zone.”


Alarcon said that if “advocates cannot follow simple rules and regulations … this means we could not follow national laws and rules.”


In his talk with reporters, Alarcon lamented at the bombings by terrorists directed against innocent civilians, including the bomb which blasted a ship at the Zamboanga City wharf that killed six civilians and wounded many others.


“If terrorists are angry with the government, then why won’t they direct their anger towards government and attack government facilities, the military, the Senate or Congress? Most of the victims of bombings are poor and innocent. Life indeed isn’t fair,” he commented.


Alarcon also shared that in Lamitan, “conflicts here are caused by rido and petty crimes.”


“It is imperative that we must invest on education rather than guns and bombs. In whatever plans to undertake, the measure must be the question: ‘Is this right? Is this not a human rights violation?’” he said.


“Let’s always be reminded not to do unto others what we don’t want others do unto us,” he pointed out.


Alarcon admitted that there are human rights violations in this town, but said that these are unrecorded or undocumented.