Farmers appeal for Jolie to visit the Philippines


MANILA, Philippines — Thousands of rural people have been displaced by increased military operations, a left-wing Filipino farmers group said Friday in an appeal for help to the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees.

The Farmers’ Movement of the Philippines, or KMP, urged the UNHCR to send goodwill ambassador and Hollywood star Angelina Jolie to the Philippines to look into the rising number of internal refugees in the country.

The KMP asked for Jolie to witness “the real situation of internally displaced people in the country,” KMP officer Willy Marbella said in a statement.

More than 10,000 people have been forced to leave their homes this year alone because of military actions and threats, he said.

But the military blames insurgents for the problem.

“More than 10,000 peace loving people are displaced every now and then due to the persistence of the insurgents in carrying out their armed revolution,” said Lt. Col. Ernesto Torres, the army’s spokesman. “The faster we can get our acts together … in defeating the insurgents, the sooner we can put a stop to this unwarranted displacement of people.”

Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro, the armed forces spokesman, said he could not confirm nor contradict the figures cited, but stressed that the military operations aim to run after rebels, not displace civilians. Soldiers are told to avoid engaging guerrillas in populated areas, he said.

The military is battling communist rebels, who have been fighting for a Maoist-led state for 39 years, and the 11,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front that has been struggling for two decades for self rule in the southern Philippines.