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Philippine News Digest 24

May 7, 2002 · 

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Contents:
1. Ratification of International Criminal Court urged
2. Protests hound military exercises
3. Schoolchildren recruited in armed combat
4. US to re-establish military bases
5. SBMA marks 10th year anniversary

Ratification of International Criminal Court set up

Representative Etta Rosales and Senator Loren Legarda filed separate resolutions urging the immediate ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Philippines has signed the Rome Statute for the ICC in December 2000 but the executive department has not endorsed the documents for Senate ratification two months before its enforcement and a few months more before the first meeting of the Assembly of State parties. The Philippine Coalition of the International Criminal Court (ciccmedia@iccnow.org) is also pushing for the ratification of the ICC. Unlike the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which deals with states, the ICC deals with and has the power to investigate, prosecute and convict individuals. It is a permanent body that exercises international jurisdiction over criminals who may have escaped the national jurisdiction where they committed the crime because of the immunity they enjoy or of the absence of an impartial court. In 1998, 120 states voted in support of the Final Text of the Rome Statute seeking to establish the ICC. Twenty one abstained and seven voted against, icluding the US, China, Japan, India and Israel. In 2000, 114 states have signed the Statute and 21 have ratified it, among them Belgium, Belize, Canada, Fiji, France, Ghana, Iceland, Italy, Mali, Norway, San Marino, Senegal, Trinidad and Tobago, Tajikistan and Venezuela. The Preparatory Commission for the International Criminal Court has surpassed the required 60 ratifications with the submission of the instruments of ratification of seven countries putting the ICC into force. Cambodia is the only Southeast Asian country to become a member of the court’s first Assembly of State parties.

Meanwhile, the United States is dead set against the ICC the Bush administration is planning to “un-sign” the treaty that sets up the court, retroactively annulling the signature of then-President Clinton in December 2000. In so doing, US soldiers or officials abroad who commit various atrocities could escape prosecution because the court can only prosecute nationals of countries that have ratified the treaty. Source: William Orme of the Los Angeles Times and correspondent reports.

Protests hound military exercises

The Luzon version of the RP-US miltary exercises opened in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija, north of Manila April 23 with loud protests from local residents complaining of noise pollution. Low-flying planes manned by both American and Filipino soldiers frightened the children while farm animals were disturbed. Fishermen in San Antonio town worry about the danger bombing exercises nearby. In the early 1980s when US planes dominated the air space of Zambales, there were at least three incidents of accidental bombing in one town alone. PREDA Foundation also raised alarm over the possible resurgence of prostitution and abuse by US military men in the cities of Angeles and Olongapo where the highest concentration of red light establishments were located during the presence of the US military bases. They are now operated by local and foreign sex tour agents and controlled by a sex mafia. local governments who issue permitas and operating licenses encopurage the industry, where very young women, incluiding minors, are lured into prostitution. Source: Internet News Network, 24 April 2002.

Schoolchildren recruited in armed combat

A study by Oxfam-Britain, a British-based education group, revealed that more male students are dropping out of schools and are believed to have joined rebel groups in conflict-ridden Mindanao. The elementary drop out and survival rates at the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao is pegged at 25 percent and 30 percent respectively, which means that for every 100 students who enroll in grade one, only 30 will finish grade six. Around 150, 028 families consisting of 797, 838 persons have been displaced by the on-going conflict in Mindanao. The high drop out rate is not only caused by the on-going war, but also by extreme poverty that forces displaced families to stop sending their children to schools. Source: Estrella Torres, Today, 22 April 2002.

US to reestablish military bases

Party List Representative Liza Maza warned of a possible permanent stay by US troops in the country, and of an impending prostitution boom in designated rest and recreation areas and the displacement of indigenous communities where the military exercises are held. Maza said the US is hell-bent on maintaining its presence in the Asia-Pacific region by deploying 100,000 troops in military installations in South Korea, Okinawa in Japan and the Philippines. She said the construction of airstrips, ports, roads and other facilities in the country and the arrival of Gen. Richard Myers, US Joint Chiefs of Staff, point to the real agenda behind the deployment of US troops in Mindanao- the reestablishment of US military bases in the country. Source: Jodeal Cadacio, Today, 30 April 2002.

SBMA marks 10th year anniversary

It has been ten years since the Philippine Senate voted not to extend the RP-US Miltary Bases Treaty that paved the way for the enactment of the Bases Conversion Law or republic Act 7227, creating the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA). The freeport has become one of the leading economic areas not only in the Philippines but in Asia as well. It is on its way to double the 30,000 former base workers as the present total workforce created by the SBMA has already reached more than 50,000 employees, dismantling the argument by pro-US bases retention that its withdrawal would result to the nation’s economic collapse. PREDA Foundation was among the first to call for the removal of US military bases on Philippine soil when it discovered a sex mafia offering minors to US servicemen in 1982. At least 12 girls as young as five were diagnosed to have venereal dioseases which they apparently got from their American abusers. Source: Olongapo News, 11-17 March 2002 and correspondent reports

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