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Kris-Crossing Mindanao

3Bs for the poor

/ 05:20 AM June 18, 2018

No, this is not about the Build, Build, Build scheme of the Duterte administration.

The 3Bs refer to three things that the poor in Mindanao and in some urban blighted areas in Metro Manila unwillingly receive on an almost daily basis — bombs, bullets and barbs.

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On June 10, residents of at least four municipalities straddled by the Liguasan Marsh in Maguindanao and Cotabato provinces fled their homes to escape the military’s airstrikes in the area. The refugees came from the towns of Pikit (Cotabato province), Pagalungan, Montawal and Rajah Buayan, of Maguindanao.

Residents panicked after hearing the all-too-familiar sounds of air missiles exploding near their homes. Many of them had just finished their sahoor, or early dawn meal before fasting that starts at around 4 a.m., until before sundown or around 6 p.m.

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Liguasan Marsh is the country’s biggest wetland biodiversity reserve, with an area spanning more than 2,000 hectares. It straddles more than 10 municipalities in three provinces—Maguindanao, Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat. Previous studies have confirmed the wetland’s enormous potential, especially in providing industrial-grade natural gas. As a wetland or marsh, it also hosts a wide diversity of flora and fauna.

Observant residents in the area believe the airstrikes were just a smokescreen for something insidious that could happen in the near future, such as  the possibility of Chinese businesses exploring and subsequently exploiting the rich natural biodiversity of Liguasan. Their fears seemed to have been confirmed after a Chinese government military plane landed at the Davao City International Airport, allegedly to “refuel.”

Meanwhile, in the ancestral lands of the Manobo in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, impoverished communities there continue to suffer from repeated episodes of evacuation. Last April, many Manobo Talaingod families fled to Tagum City and put up rickety shelters in a banana plantation. This was not the first time they had fled their ancestral lands. Over the years, many of their militant leaders had also received “unwanted” gifts of bullets that killed them.

The Manobo ancestral lands in Talaingod are rich in mining and forest resources. The Manobo believe this is why they are constantly driven out of their homeland.

Recently, an urban poor organization in Metro Manila, the Kadamay Alliance, mobilized its members to occupy vacant housing units built for members of the Philippine National Police and the military.

President Duterte immediately ordered the police to stop Kadamay members from occupying the housing units, and to kill them if needed. In his words: “Wala akong pakialam kung may mapatay man kayo, kahit lima o anim sa kanila… sinunog nila mukha ko sa rally nila… (I don’t care if you kill any of them, five or six of them… They burned my effigy in their rally…).” That chilling directive was followed by more of his trademark volley of barbs at the poor, peppered with foul words.

The 3Bs — bombs, bullets and barbs — are the least that poor people need. Giving them these 3Bs only affirms that this administration, with President Duterte at the helm, looks at the poor as merely a burden to governance. What better way to remove this burden than to “gift” them with the 3Bs.

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Ironically, to rich cronies and sycophants, Mr. Duterte gives real gifts of fat security services, event management contracts and luxurious perks. Likewise, the President is magnanimous to the rich Chinese government. China has undermined our sovereignty as a nation through its hostile, invasive acts. But the presidential spokesperson only spins yarn after yarn to justify such acts.

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TAGS: 3BS, barbs, bombs, bullets, Kris-Crossing Mindanao, Liguasan Marsh, Mindanao martial law, Rodrigo Duterte, Rufa Guiam
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