The EcoWaste Coalition is deeply concerned with the escalating conflict in Basilan and Sulu and with its adverse social and psychological impact on local communities. Likewise, we are acutely concerned about the conflict's concealed casualty: the environment.
From various media accounts, we have come to know the painful social impact of the heightened armed offensive: dozens of soldiers and rebels killed, hundreds of residents displaced, community life disrupted. Behind the statistics are the often-ignored psychological effects of the violence on combatants and their families as well as on community members, most especially the children, caught in the crossfire.
We also see the environment being battered and damaged in the carnage. Bullets, grenades, bombs, mortars and other war tools obliterate wildlife, disturb native habitats and poison the air, water and soil with toxic chemicals. This damage to the environment is very costly and can persist for generations.
We deplore all forms of violence that only divide and impoverish our nation, harm our communities and the environment, and divert essential human and financial resources from constructive and beneficial purposes -- such as building classrooms, producing instructional materials and increasing teachers' salaries, promoting primary health care, advancing
zero-waste resource management and creating sustainable jobs and livelihood.
For the sake of the people and the environment, we call upon the government to stop the offensive. We support the call, made by faith and peace groups, for the cessation of violence in southern Philippines, and we appeal to the warring parties to opt for diplomacy and negotiation, and to shun violence as a means of addressing disputes.
Unit 320, Eagle Court, 26 Matalino St., Quezon City