The bomb explosion at the Mindanao State University in Marawi City during the celebration of the Eucharist on the first Sunday of Advent which killed four people and injured 50 has sent fear through the local Christian community.
In the hinterland village of Pedtad in North Cotabato province, Philippines, a group of former Islamist fighters have put aside their guns in exchange for a more peaceful life managing fishponds. “Tending the farm and pulling out water lilies is safer than carrying guns and roaming the mountains,” said Harun Imba. “In the mountains, your life is always in danger.”
When he was seven years old, Jun Rey Bigallera would wake up before dawn, not to get ready for school but to go to a public market in the southern Philippine city of Davao to sell vegetables. Jun recalls walking for two hours to reach the market.
The new law on firearms has sparked heated debate in the Philippines where, in 2013 alone, over 220 thousand crimes were committed including robberies, murders, assaults, violence. The new norm is the final version of the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act, of June 2013, which allows at-risk groups to carry firearms. These include journalists, lawyers, activists and priests often victims of kidnapping, summary killings and robberies by groups of terrorists or criminals. According to the previous law, such categories were treated like any other citizen and had to show that they are “under real threat” to bear arms. Critics of the law state that while the government now allows individuals at risk to defend themselves, it still does not make any headway in preventing crimes.