MANILA, Philippines - Next Wednesday, governments will sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) in Oslo, Norway and the Philippine government, thru the Department of Foreign Affairs, signified its intent to sign the cluster bomb treaty.
Designed to break open in mid-air and scatter up to hundreds of smaller bombs over wide areas, cluster bombs kill too many civilians. Many do not explode on impact, thus continuing to kill and injure long after conflict has ended.
The treaty bans the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster bombs and contains the strongest provisions for victim assistance ever agreed in international law.
Touted as the "treaty with the fastest signing and ratification process," the CCM went past other pending international treaties such as that of Arms Trade and the International Criminal Court.
The Philippine Campaign against Cluster Munitions (PCCM) stated that there is no documented use of cluster bombs in the country. However the group stated that there is a problematic presence of cluster bombs in countries where there are overseas Filipino workers such as Lebanon, Israel and Laos, the "most cluster-bombed" country.
Also, the Philippines had staging points for the cluster bomb attacks in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam during the time of US bases in the country. With the US presence in Mindanao now, it is yet to be confirmed if stockpiles of cluster bombs exist in the area.
The PCCM also highlighted that the Mindanao conflict would be worse with the presence of cluster bombs, as the 'bomblets' become de facto landmines that prevent war evacuees from returning to their communities. (Nikki Delfin)