Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies, Vol 16, No 2 (2001)

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Reaching for the Gun: The Human Cost of Small Arms in Central Mindanao

Ed Quitoriano, Eric Libre

Abstract


Mindanao has been in a state of war for the last 30 years as Muslim rebel groups have fought for a separate status for the island from the rest of the Philippines. Small arms play a significant role in the conflict, in the hands of both combatants and civilians. This report sets out to examine the background to the conflict; to establish the routes by which arms reach the warring parties; to discover the reasons for civilian possession of arms; and to measure the resulting humanitarian impact of small arms through direct and indirect effects. Small arms are found to have a significant effect on the perpetuation of conflict in Mindanao. The report concludes that with national and international action to stem the supply of weapons pouring into Mindanao should come renewed attempts to end the conflict at the negotiating table. All sides should take more responsibility for ensuring the delivery of humanitarian aid and respect for human rights.

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