Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Fighting poverty fights kidnapping as well

An al-Qaeda linked group in the Philippines terrorizes the country by conducting kidnappings for money. When the question is asked how best to stop the kidnappings, one professor says by giving the people a way out of poverty.

From GMA News of the Philippines, we learn of the views of Clarita Carlos who has researched the connection between rebellion and poverty.

“Kidnapping won’t stop unless the government provides a lasting solution, which is to address poverty in the area," Clarita Carlos, political science professor at the University of the Philippines, told GMANews.TV on Wednesday.

According to Carlos, if people’s economic needs are adequately met, they would have a higher self-esteem and would not resort to desperate acts to validate themselves, like what the Abu Sayyaf is doing now with its hostages.

“We cannot totally fault the Abu Sayyaf bandits if they are acting irrationally. Why are they getting their validation from cutting heads of people, while others validate themselves by earning graduate degrees? We should have a shared meaning of self-worth and the government must direct society toward that goal," Carlos, president of the Center for Asia Pacific Studies, said.

In her research studies, Carlos said she was able to prove that poverty breeds rebellion and banditry.

“For instance, I did a research in Quezon (province), a rebel-infested area. Sobrang hirap dun, ang putik-putik, walang kuryente, ang mga bata ang lalaki ng tiyan kasi puro bulate. [Life there was so hard, it was muddy, there was no electricity, and the stomachs of children became bloated with worms]. So how can you stop them from rebelling if they face these hardships everyday?" she said.

The al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf abducted three aid workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Sulu province last January 15 after the victims visited a water project for a jail in Jolo town.

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