The Initiatives for International Dialogue expresses grave concern over the blatant violation of human rights of the internally displaced persons in Maguindanao who continue to receive the blow in the obsession for a military solution to the conflict in Mindanao. Maguindanao is one of the five provinces under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The question on how best to protect civilians from forced displacement continues to be an issue of grave concern to all of us. Apparently, the situation in the conflict affected areas in Mindanao showcases the lack of effective national and international responses to the issue.
We, the Initiatives for International Dialogue firmly believe that government should be in the forefront of addressing the protection rights of the internally displaced persons.
Under Principle 3 of the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement to which the country is a signatory, “national authorities have the primary duty and responsibility to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons within their jurisdiction.”
It also states that “internally displaced persons have the right to request and to receive protection and humanitarian assistance from these authorities. They shall not be persecuted or punished for making such as request.”
We believe that internally displaced persons are not merely casualties of war but persons entitled to human rights protection. We call on the government to do a better job of listening and consulting with displaced communities to gain better understanding of what the people need.
It is the position of the Initiatives for International Dialogue that in ensuring that all facets of the protection issue are addressed in a sustainable manner, genuine consultations should be undertaken to provide input on alternative plans for their security situation, and to incorporate grassroots concerns into the national and international protection policies and programs.
We take grave concern on the inhuman situation of IDPs in evacuation centers who are confronted with heath crisis, lack of food, disruption of education, rise of tension, psychological effects brought by war, violence against women and children and the elderly and the rising frustration among the youth.
In light of the above, we call upon all national and local authorities to uphold the rights of internally displaced persons. In particular, investigate and immediately act on the reported food blockade allegedly perpetrated by the military against affected communities.
We also call on the government to provide support for protecting civilians against arbitrary displacement, and take measures for both the military and the MILF to recognize and respect early warning systems in the community, peace zones and inter-community conflict prevention efforts.
We call on the international community to take strong immediate political actions to urge and encourage the national leadership to protect the interest of the displaced protection as their public responsibility. If the government continues to renege in its responsibility to protect the civilians in times of war, then the international community must intervene on behalf of the internally displaced.
IID will continue to take into account the importance of consulting with, integrating and supporting war affected communities and other community based initiatives to ensure a more responsive and effective protection response.
We believe that by listening to the internally displaced and at risk communities, we could gain a collective understanding on how they perceive their condition, and on how best could humanitarian agencies and the national government assist them to help themselves.
We will continue to work with the youth, women and the whole community in developing effective and constructive dialogue as a conflict prevention and peace building mechanism to ensure that their views in constructing peace is taken into account in governance.