Posted by: kawagib | August 16, 2007

Stop military operations in Sulu and Basilan! Stop targeting civilians!

    Government troops hit civilians while conducting clearing operations in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan in pursuit of the suspects for the July 10 incident.  

On August 08, 2007, the military fired mortars at the house of Sarah Lumandong, 25 years old in Sitio Marang, Barangay Lower Sungkayot, Tipo-Tipo, Basilan where the government soldiers conducted ground testing preparing for a full offensive against the suspected perpetrators of the July 10 incident.  

Sarah Lumandong together with her 10 month old daughter Mujaifa were in their house peeling cassava for their dinner when she heard a heavy blast at her back and found out that she was hit at her lower leg.  

Lumandog was not given medication immediately due to lack of facilities in the hospital. She was only treated on August 09, 2007 when they transferred her to St. Peter Hospital in Lamitan.  

It came out in national dailies that it was a legitimate encounter between the military and the rebels in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan but the truth is that there was no encounter in the area they just fired mortars in communities in Basilan.  

The military want to project that it was an encounter but they cannot hide the truth that their targets are not only the responsible for the July 10 incident but they also include civilians as their targets.  In Sulu, after the encounter on August 08, 2007 President Macapagal-Arroyo ordered her Military to launch full offensive in Sulu province last Monday, August 13, 2007.   

The 14, 000 civilians were forcibly evacuated due to the encounter at upper Sampungan, Parang, Sulu and still languishing at the evacuation centers. The number of evacuees may increase if they continue the full offensive.  In broadsheets yesterday, President Arroyo mentioned her directives to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and one these is to keep the military operations in Sulu and Basilan firmly under control to minimize civilian casualties. But what is happening now? They have been conducting military operations in pursuit of the so-called “terrorists” by targeting the civilians.  

This is the second time for this year alone when Arroyo administration gave directives to her soldiers to launch offensives in southern Philippines in the guise of pursing the Abu Sayyaf.  But it always had been the civilians who suffer most as they become the victim of Arroyo’s “war on terror”. Aside from the fact that they were forced to leave their ancestral land and their source of living they were also often accused as sympathizers if not members of the Abu Sayyaf.

On January 18, 2007, a 14 year old Abdulhakim Abilul was shot dead by the elements of the military in Kilometer 4, Kasambahan Village , Indanan, Sulu. They shot him while on his way from watching telenovela in their neighbor’s house and accused as member of the Abu Sayyaf.His family was offered P15, 000. 00 amount of money by the military as a “help” and to silence them. Hakim’s case remains unsolved.

If the government is true with peace negotiations then it should prioritize its peace agenda in Mindanao .  Even the future of peace negotiations was not tackled by the government in the SONA.  Her praise for the Philippine Marines obscured the human rights violation record of the marines and the rest of the Philippine military in Basilan.

The Kawagib Moro Human Rights reiterates its call for pull-out of the military in Basilan and Sulu and stop targeting the civilians! Listen to the people’s call for peace and not military operation.  

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