As the Filipino people relive today the 1986 EDSA revolution, the Kawagib Moro Human Rights Organization issued a strong condemnation of the regime of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for trampling on the spirit of the EDSA People Power.

Kawagib joins other progressive groups in calling for the ouster of GMA.
The group is appalled by a statement made earlier by Arroyo claiming that another People Power would be unacceptable in the eyes of the international community and the event which has brought her to power, EDSA II, was merely “tolerated” by the world.

“It’s quite ironic that she is discrediting the very thing that has, quite unfortunately, brought her to power. Filipinos must never hesitate to come together to bring down a corrupt and repressive regime at any point in history. It doesn’t matter how many times we have to do it if only to safeguard our basic rights and freedom,” Kawagib spokesperson Bai Ali Indayla said.

The group is convinced of an ‘undeclared martial law’ existing in the country today. “Never in recent history of the country has human rights violations and political repression been so rampant and largely left unpunished.. The current regime is reminiscent of the martial law era,” Indayla said.

She cites the growing number of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and harassments of people critical of the Arroyo administration and even of those who are thought to be so.

Just about a week ago, a nun, Sister Stella Matutina, and three other companions from the environmental group Panalipdan were harassed by elements of the army’s 67th Infantry Battalion in the Barangay Hall of Taytayan, Cateel, Davao Oriental.

“It’s very disturbing to know that the military can do this to a nun. Ordinary individuals who cannot defend their rights could suffer worse,” Indayla said.
Indayla herself has been a subject of recent government surveillance, which the group greatly condemns.

“This government is sending a message that none of its critics will be safe from harassment and human rights violations it itself perpetrates,” she said.
Indayla said they are taken aback and dismayed by the government’s lack of concern to the basic rights of ordinary civilians.

Further, Kawagib denounced the all-out war policy launched by the Arroyo regime in the face of the stalled peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The war has ravaged the lives of thousands of innocent civilians in Mindanao.

The efforts of the current regime to protect press freedom and stop the killing of journalists have also been nothing but superficial. Ernie Rollin, a radio commentator, of Ozamiz City became the latest journalist to be murdered – making him the 1st journalist in the country killed this year and the 63rd since Arroyo came to power in 2001.

“There are growing and valid indications that this government is either tolerating or perpetrating human rights violations. As freedom-loving Filipinos and in the spirit of the EDSA revolution, we cannot allow it to continue its reign of terror,” Indayla said

Cotabato City– The KAWAGIB MORO HUMAN RIGHTS joins the international community in condemning the atrocious military aggression of Israel in Gaza and urges world leaders to support measure to protect and advance the basic rights of the Palestinian people.

The humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip calls for an immediate and comprehensive intervention.  The entire Gaza populations are being punished for the actions of a few militants. Israel ’s military incursion has targeted Hamas but a vast majority of the victims are innocent civilians. The deadly air strikes were aimed at civilian areas. At least one aerial assault hit a U.N. school.

Israel ’s sustained and escalating military assault in Gaza has already claimed the lives of close to 700 Palestinians – about a third of whom are women and children – and injured thousands of others.

Despite mounting international pressure, Israel , with the backing of the United States (U.S.), has kept on with its military operation, which is nothing but a large-scale massacre of innocent civilians. The U.S.’ used of its veto power to oppose a draft ceasefire resolution by the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council is a clear manifestation of its support to Israel’s aggression.

We are very dismayed by the apparent impunity with which Israel with its complicit state, the U.S. , persist in their systematic oppression of the Palestinian people. Israel , with the backing of the U.S. , has been committing immense crimes against humanity despite strong condemnation of international watchdogs.

The Bangsamoro people are, to some extent, beset with similar aggression and feel for the Palestinians in their quest for the right to self-determination. The Philippine government has consistently suppressed the rights and aspirations of the Bangsamoro people and brazenly violated international humanitarian law with its all-out war policy. It has been quick to resort to military option to contain peace and security issues and puts little consideration to the number of civilian lives lost and affected in its military campaigns.

We condemn in the strongest terms Israel ’s military aggression in Gaza ; its shameless and flagrant defiance of international humanitarian law and its arrogant and appalling disregard of the unified call of the international community.

We deplore U.S. support in the armed aggression and its imperial pursuits in the Philippines and in the rest of the world.

We support the adoption of concrete measure to end the aggression and the sufferings of the Palestinian people and call an end to Israel ’s military and humanitarian siege of Gaza.

COTABATO CITY – The KAWAGIB Moro Human Rights Organization here dares Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s government to pull-out troops still in offensives in the bailiwick areas of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as its ‘confidence building measure before going back to peace talks.  

 

Attacks against civilians intensified and human rights violations mounted after Arroyo government deployed about half of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) troops and launched military offensives against MILF commanders Kato, Bravo and Pangalian.

 

Innocent civilians fear to return homes for their houses were burned and communities were made as military camps like Barangay Dapiawan of Datu Saudi Ampatuan in Maguindanao.

 

The government needs to pull-out its troops to show sincerity after it dissolved its GRP Peace Panel, abandoned the agreed and signed Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MoA-AD) and declared All-Out War Policy. The group also condemns the huge military budget allotted for militarization compared to amount extended for relief to civilians affected by war.

 

The government had extended only P130.9 million or P218 every evacuee while allotted P500 million to pursue MILF commanders. The bounty of three commanders cost P25 million alone. The amount extended for evacuees’ relief did not even reach half compared to damage cost due to aerial bombing and mortar shelling that already reached P258.3 million.

 

Together with Suara Bangsamoro and Liga ng Kabataang Moro, KAWAGIB launches protest action Tuesday, December 2, 2008 at the City Plaza here and formally launched the ‘8-Day Countdown to International Human Rights Day.’ The group calls for justice and indemnification to all victims of human rights violations and put a halt to the on-going war in Mindanao .

 

“Civilians had suffered so much and their five-month stay in evacuation centers is tough bases for the government and MILF to return to negotiating table. The Moro people hope that the government would be sincere this time, said Bai Ali Indayla, the group’s spokesperson.

 

Posted by: kawagib | October 2, 2008

Victims of War

COTABATO CITY – A Moro human rights group here expresses fresh apprehension that number of innocent civilian victims will magnify with the persistent military operation against MILF commanders Kato, Bravo and Pangalian, now that Ramadhan had concluded.

The Kawagib Moro Human Rights Group has documented, since June, 14 types of human rights violations and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) that has affected 245,522 individuals from the three provinces of Central Mindananao – North Cotabato , Maguindanao and Shariff Kabunsuan.

Bulk of these cases are victims of forcible evacuation due to indiscriminate firing, shelling and aerial bombing while the gravest human rights violation transpired was the massacre of Daya family in Barangay Tee, Datu Piang, Maguindanao, where six are killed – four are children and a pregnant teenager.

Bai Ali Indayla, the group’s spokesperson, said, “Moro residents of Datu Piang and Datu Saudi Ampatuan, reported that around 70 houses were conflagrated and 18 families were divested of their properties by military elements designated in their communities. And these violations transpired while Muslims observe Ramadhan.”

Moreover, Kawagib criticizes the Armed Forces of the Philippines ’ (AFP) additional P10 billion-budget in the ground of an effective hunt against their so-called ‘rogue MILF commanders’ and materiel upgrade. Defense secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr.. proposed the additional budget which amounts to a 17.7% increase in the P56.6 billion already earmarked under the 2009 national budget.

Indayla stressed that instead of additional war paraphernalia, the proposed additional budget is of big help to supplement assistance to affected civilians.

“The AFP’s bombs and bullets target not only Commanders Kato, Bravo and Pangalian but large number of innocent people. Much has been killed and it’s very disheartening that our military troops that supposed to be the ‘people’s safeguard’ only treat the victims as collateral damage,” Indayla lamented.

Further, the group appeals to the conflicting parties (GRP and MILF) to heed the cry of innocent civilians, respect the rights of the Bangsamoro people and return to the negotiating table.

A National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission, to be spearheaded by Kawagib and several rights and church groups, will be conducted this month in Central Mindanao .

“We call all sectors to support the mission so that we can give a little relief to our Muslim and Christian brethrens,” Indayla concluded

Cotabato City– The Kawagib Moro Human Rights Organization here condemn on its highest term the inhumane acts and brutality of the military forces when it indiscriminately dropped bombs from OV10 to families crossing Bugok River in Barangay Tee in Datu Piang, Maguindanao leaving 6 civilians killed, 4 of them minors and a pregnant teenager, and other 2 minors wounded.

The attacks launched by the military troops were no longer attacks against the MILF commanders but an attack to Muslim civilians and communities. The use of planes belies the previous announcement of the AFP not to use planes and mortars in respect of the civilians and Ramadhan but their operations go against their previous statements.

“Their statements contradict to what they are doing, and we are used to these lies of the military officials whenever they committed human rights violations. They denied they used bombs but later admitted they dropped rockets to scare MILF. They told that those killed were rebels but photos and reports showed that victims are minors and civilians” Bai Ali Indayla , the group’s spokesperson said.

“The government and its troops are again showing its military might and it seems that there is an undeclared Martial Law here. What the military have done is a big violation to the International Humanitarian Law, the Protocols of War and Human Rights, the military officials in command should be held accountable and for disrespecting the rights of the Muslim civilians to peacefully observe the holy month of Ramadhan”, Indayla added.

On September 08, 10:30 in the morning, Manunggal-Mandi family rode a pumpboat  crossing Bugok River when an OV10 bomb dropped to them. Killed were Daya and Vilma, 18 yrs. old and 6 months pregnant, Bailyn Mandi , 10 years old, Caharudin Mandi, 7 years old, Adtayan Mandi , 5 years old, and Faiza Mandi , 2 years old.

Posted by: kawagib | September 6, 2008

Pikit, North Cotabato

North Cotabato- Progressive and human rights organizations give assistance to internally displaced persons in Annex 2 Evacuation Center in Pikit, North Cotabato. 300 families stay here since July, only few of them, 20 families returned to their communities. Most of them from Brgy. Dalingaoen, Nalapaan, Pagangan and Tapudok, among barangays affected by the armed conflict in North Cotabato Province.

Evacuees are afraid to go back to their barangays because of the stalled peace talk between GRP and MILF and for possible clashes again. Kawagib- Moro Human Rights Group have documented several cases of violation to Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law such that military used Barangay Hall and Day Care Centers as their camp in Barangay Dalingaoen, Pikit, North Cotabato since August 11.

According to Bai Ali Indayla, Spokesperson of Kawagib, civilians reported they were indiscriminately fired by the military which forced them to evacuate and this is violation to the rights of the civilian and the community.

“Despite the poverty they experience in evacuation centers, as Muslim, they are oblige to fast in observance of the Ramadhan. They go to mosque near their evacuation center and collectively pray specially when it is Friday” Indayla added.

“The people here, Muslim, Christian and Lumad want peace like the meaning of ‘Islam’. We are peace loving people and we don’t deserve to be militarized. We call to the GRP and MILF to resume its talk so that civilians could go back to their communities and children could attend their education” Indayla said.

Cotabato City – Kawagib Moro Human Rights calls for a stop to on-going offensives in Moro areas and Mindanao and reaches out to other human rights organizations to help the victims of the recent offensives made by the Armed Forces of the Philippines as a result of the failed signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

According to Kawagib spokesperson Bai Ali Indayla, the government has tallied more than 360,000 evacuees have been crammed in makeshift evacuation centers in North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte and Basilan.  In Maitum, Saranggani alone, there were already 249,194 displaced residents since June 2008.

In their initial investigations, Kawagib has documented 13 civilians dead due to strafing and mortar shelling by the AFP in North Cotabato , Lanao del Norte and Maguindanao including a pregnant woman, three minors, three elderly and a two months old baby.

For the whole month of August, Kawagib has documented eight wounded civilians including four minors and one seven month-old baby.

One man was arrested in Kabakan suspected of being an MILF member responsible for the bombin in Midsayap.  Another man was reported to have lost his sanity because of the military offensives.

Kawagib further reported that they have documented five houses burned in Aleosan, both belonging to Muslims and Christians, and a house of a Moro family in Matalam was strafed by unidentified armed men.

Indayla deplores government troops and officials to respect the Muslim’s observance of the holy month of fasting by stopping the offensives in communities and stop issuing orders of heightened military offensives during the Ramadhan.

“It is already difficult for the evacuees to live in makeshift evacuation center, it will be harder for them to keep on being uprooted from their communities while observing fast,” said Indayla.

According to Indayla, her group is concerned that violence against civilians will further escalate despite of the seeming withdrawal of troops by the national government.

Indayla added that resurgence of vigilante groups like the Ilaga and arming civilians through police auxiliaries will only aggravate the situation of the civilians and make them more vulnerable to violence.

“We will hold liable the President Arroyo and the DILG chief  Reynato Puno should any civilian die as a result of the rise of the vigilante groups,” said Indayla adding that in the past it had been difficult for families who were victims of Ilaga violence to go after the perpetrators and the government agencies that organized and supplied arms for them.

Indayla said that rekindling Ilaga as a group and fanning anti-Moro biases will not help resolve the situation in Mindanao , and may even start mayhem in Mindanao.

Posted by: kawagib | September 2, 2008

Brgy. Batulawan, Pikit, North Cotabato.

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