Delivered in Plenary - 21st January 2010
This horrendous crime in Maguindanao is undoubtedly deserving of our strongest condemnation. It reveals the extent to which lawlessness has taken root in some parts of the Philippines.
There are many reasons for this depressing development: the dispersed nature of the islands of the Philippines archipelago, the weak central government, corruption, poverty and an ongoing Islamist terrorist insurgency supported by al-Qa’ida in the south.
This crime, apparently politically motivated, therefore must be seen in its wider social and historical context. We should not disregard the efforts that the Philippines Government has made to develop a more democratic political culture in the past 25 years following the fall of the kleptocratic dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Nor should we underestimate the existentialist threat posed by the terrorists of Abu Sayyaf and how they are destabilising the whole of the society that makes up the Philippine state.
Constructive engagement and targeted assistance offer the best chance of helping the Philippines, a country which shares our common values in many ways, in order to enable them to embed the rule of law in central and in local government.