I arrived in Davao City, Mindanao having been scanned numerous times by infrared cameras seeking out anyone who might possibly be suffering from H1N1 virus, swine flu. People are wearing masks to protect them from an invisible enemy. The whole building where we normally hold the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute has been closed, only running on a skeleton crew, the bulk of the staff sent home. All because of one case of the flu among the students who normally inhabit the compound which includes a medical school. The remaining staff are cleaning walls with Clorox in order to 'disinfect' the whole place, a seeming quixotic goal in this fetid tropical air.
A government report in mid July states that over 745,000 people are displaced in Central Mindanao due to the fighting between the government (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). School compounds, safe havens for families who have no where else to go, displace students wanting to study. Now the Philippine military states that they view these displaced persons as host communities for enemy combatants. Indeed, the military has bombed areas close to where these displaced persons have huddled to escape areas of intense fighting. Children have been traumatized and hurt.
I juxtapose a world held captive by the latest news of a microscopic virus and three-quarters of a million people hostage to a military chasing 2 or 3 people that doesn't even make national headlines. Something in the scheme of human priorities seem wrong to me. Does it to you?