Dani Beltran, of our Philippine partner organization the Council for Health Development (CHD), testified in a newspaper article about the state of the people's health in Mindanao. According to him, the health status worsened not only because of government neglect but also because of “militarization” in many parts of the island. This was apparent in the research conducted by CHD in 38 communities in eight cities and 16 provinces of Mindanao from July to September last year. "In far-flung villages of the island, one can see more soldiers with rifles than government doctors with stethoscopes," Dani observed.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines immediately cried foul and responded in the same newspaper. Interestingly, their spokesperson admitted that "basic services, like health and education are hardly felt in communist-influenced areas," and that the army disallowed NGOs from going inside areas where there is fighting "for their own protection."