Guns kill in many other ways PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 19 June 2011 14:55

This week is being internationally observed as the “Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence.”  This is especially relevant and urgent for Zamboanga City as well as the Philippines where violence involving the use of firearms happen daily and often in daring fashion. 

According to the civil society group Philippine Action Network to Control Arms (PhilANCA), there are 1.1 million loose firearms out of the 3.2 firearms holdings in the country.  These are used to commit the estimated 16 to 22 gun deaths each day.  It is an out-of-control situation with which Zamboanga City residents are numbingly familiar nowadays, and local law enforcement authorities seem too inutile to stop.

PhilANCA and Pax-Christi-Miriam College are jointly spearheading a letter of appeal to the Philippine government for it to support the passage of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) by the United Nations, scheduled in July.

“We need a strong (ATT) that would stop the irresponsible arms transfers from destroying lives and fuelling conflict and human rights abuses,” they say in a campaign letter.  The treaty, they say, will help governments ensure that firearms will not be used to “commit serious violations of international human rights law or humanitarian law; commit acts of genocide or crimes against humanity; facilitate a pattern of gender-based violence, violent crime or organized crime; and seriously impair socio-economic development.”

The commission of crimes using firearms is one of the major factors that affect global peace, said the 2011 Global Peace Index report released recently by the New York-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).  It noted that the peace situation globally has been deteriorating in the past three years due to heightened threats of terrorism, internal wars and conflicts like those in some Arab countries, and unrests brought about by the economic recession and other problems.
On the other hand, the report said that “the most peaceful nations share specific structures of peace, including well-functioning government, strong business environments, respect for human rights, low levels of corruption, high rates of participation in education and free flow of information.” The top five most peaceful nations among the 149 covered by the survey are Iceland, New Zealand, Japan, Denmark and the Czech Republic, while the worst-off are Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan and North Korea.

Predictably, the Philippines placed 130th from the bottom.
The Index observed that armed and structural violence (like poverty, gender abuse, etc.) caused a loss of 8-trillion dollars in global economic benefits and opportunities last year.  Here in Zamboanga City, it has been translating in all-too familiar woes such as lack of business investments; very low  tourist influx; high unemployment and sub-standard incomes; high cost of law enforcement (including maintenance of large populations of prisoners and detainees) and military operations that could have otherwise been invested in social services and anti-poverty programs.

”Nations need to look at new ways of creating stability other than through military force,” the report has urged. — Peace Advocates Zamboanga