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Philippine News Digest 91

November 24, 2006 · 

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Contents:
-Thousands of RP kids in Malaysia tagged refugees
-Deadly play by a child rebel
-Canada rights mission calls for $22-million cut in aid to RP

Thousands of RP kids in Malaysia tagged refugees

by: Julie Alipala
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 11/22/06

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Thousands of children of undocumented Filipino workers in Malaysia have remained stateless today, according to a Mindanao legislator who recently visited Malaysia.

Tawi-tawi Rep. Nur Jaafar, one of the Mindanao congressmen who investigated reported abuses suffered by Filipinos in Malaysia, said these children are known as “palarian.” Palarian is a Sama-Malayo word which means refugee.

Jaafar said the Philippines and the Malaysian governments must come up with a new agreement that would address the plight of these stateless people.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Esteban Conejos said the government has been trying to address this issue. He said the government was drafting an agreement, which would be submitted to Congress for approval.

The agencies involved in drafting the agreement were the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID), the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

“If we have the (draft) agreement in hand, we can already sound it out with our Malaysian counterparts and then we can proceed to the 4th RP-Malaysia Migrant Workers Group meeting to finalize it,” Conejos said.

The meeting is expected to take place early next year.

Deadly play by a child rebel
by; DJ Yap
Philippine Daily Inquirer , 11/21/06

AT THE AGE OF 9, Jim spent his afternoons playing “piko” (hopscotch). But unlike ordinary kids, he had other things on his mind — like spying on a military camp a stone’s throw away from his house.

It was mostly fun and games for the young boy, who was recruited to the communist New People’s Army by family members. He would have continued being an informant but for one unfortunate incident when he turned 10.

As he put it, he “caused” the deaths of a cousin and a number of soldiers after an Army camp in his hometown in Mindanao was attacked by NPA guerrillas, who had received a tip from Jim about their movements and position.

“Even now, I can remember what happened vividly. It often crosses my mind that I was responsible for their deaths,” Jim, now 21, said in Filipino.

He was one of the speakers at yesterday’s Peace Tech, a regional dialogue via teleconference between youths at St. Paul University in Quezon City and their counterparts at the University of South Eastern Philippines in Davao City.

The forum sought to educate young Filipinos about critical issues concerning their welfare. Yesterday’s theme was the impact of armed conflicts on the youth, especially child soldiers. It was organized by the United Nations Children’s Fund, Australian Agency for International Development, Canada Fund for Local Initiatives and Assisi Development Foundation.

“It’s not because I’m now turning against my former comrades,” he said. “Being a policeman is my childhood dream.”

Canada rights mission calls for $22-million cut in aid to RP
By Candice Y. Cerezo
The Manila Times, 11/22/06

The Canadian human-rights mission will recommend today (Wednesday) to the Canadian ambassador to the Philippines that annual aid to the country be cut by at least $22 million following the alleged harassment by the military to frustrate its probe.

Luningning Alcuitas-Imperial, a Filipino-Canadian lawyer who heads the Philippines-Canada Task Force for Human Rights, said they will present before Ambassador Peter Sutherland the mission’s findings on human-rights violations committed in Quezon Province, Abra, Nueva Ecija and Baguio. She said the mission would also ask the embassy to redirect the multimillion-dollar aid for community programs to grassroots organizations instead.

Alcuitas-Imperial also questioned the openness of the Arroyo administration to international probes, saying that during the mission’s visit to San Nicolas in Quezon, the military tried to stop its members from entering the area.

“The military tried to prevent us from speaking to residents of areas where there are reported human-rights violations. They seem to be following orders to bar human-rights observers, which contradicts President Arroyo’s supposed openness for international probes,” Alcuitas said in a press conference in Quezon City on Tuesday.

“The soldiers and police accosted us as though we were criminals and were very arrogant. They tried to break the team apart and separate us from Filipino human-rights workers and threatened to file a case of obstruction of justice against us,” she said.

Alcuitas said the probe was conducted from November 17 to 20 by two teams composed of nine Canadians and Filipino human-rights workers.

She said that on their way back to Manila on November 19, their team spent some 13 hours of travel time because it had to go through several military and police checkpoints from San Nicolas to San Pablo in Quezon. [End]

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