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More houses burn, civilians suffer in AFP offensives against MILF

August 31, 2008
 

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) attacked the forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) the past two days at some barangays of Talitay, Talayan and Guindulungan, all of Maguindanao.

 

Some 500 AFP troop supported by air and artillery assets conducted the operations against the MILF.

 

The forces that were hit by the indiscriminate air and artillery strikes belong to the group of the 104th Base Command of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces – Moro Islamic Liberation (BIAF – MILF).

 

Punitive actions of the AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP) are directed against 105th Base Command of Commader Ameril Umbra Kato, 102nd Base Command of Commander Bravo Macapaar.

 

However, other units of the MILF such as the 104th Base Command, 107th Base Command, MILF Central Committee Task Force Ittihad based in Maguindanao and Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Elements (JCMEs) of the government- MILF Ceasefire Committee had been strongly pounded by the indiscriminate offensives of the government.

 

Highly suspected that these military offensives are directed against the whole MILF despite persistent claims of the government that it’s merely against identified base commands.

 

Seven innocent civilians were severely wounded yesterday by the indiscriminate firing of the military.

 

The International Community of the Red Cross was trying get the civilians out of the theatre of war toward safer grounds and the wounded to the nearest medical centers for immediate treatment.

 

Thousands of civilians and livelihood were displaced by the military actions. Properties were destroyed and looted. Human rights were trampled upon and upon in the middle of the military actions.

 

Yet government actions are apparently discriminate for the affected communities are Muslims.

 

Several Muslim houses were burned by armed civilians in Barangays Dungguan, Langayen and Tapodoc of Aleosan and in some baragays of Pigcawayan but no stopping such atrocities by the government authorities, nay, public pronouncement condemning such commission of crime and bringing to the bar of justice the perpetrators.

 

Communal and ethnic war is not far fetch with the prevailing situation which apparently the state and government is failing squarely to address.

 

“Are we going to stay at the evacuation centers, along the roads, makeshifts during the Holy Month of Ramadhan which starts tomorrow?” asked evacuees.   

 

For those whose houses were burned and children whose homes were shattered by the armed criminals on the loose, certainly there are no more decent shelters to live by.

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August 31, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

AFP bars groups probing damages in Maguindanao clashes

 

August 30, 2008

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) troops are not allowing human rights groups to investigate and assess the extent of damages and injuries in the communities affected in Maguindanao hit by the atrocious military actions against Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Muslim civilians.

 

 


Even media people were barred by the AFP from doing their investigative reporting saying that the media cannot go beyond Barangay Dapiawan, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindonao, said text messages that reached luwaran.

 

“What are there that the AFP does not want the media should not know and report to the people,” we asked?

 

During the day-long indiscriminate aerial and artillery bombings by the AFP toward the Liguasan Marsh area along the municipalities of Guindulungan, Talayan and Talitay, Maguindanao last August 28, 2008, reports reached luwaran revealed that three (3) civilians were killed, and five (5) motorized boats and some of motorcycles were destroyed by the bombings.

 

Five civilians in other areas were also brutally butchered by firing of the 105mm howitzers of the AFP. They were identified as Ali Lamalan, 17 years old Arabic student; Mantil Abdullah, 75 years old farmer of Barangay Dugungen; Saya Satol, 30 years old lady farmer; Angkad Matuwa, 79 years old farmer of Dugungen; and Abdul Maliq Siddik, 60 years old entrepreneur. Two more unidentified civilians were wounded.

 

Countless of houses were hit / damaged and farm animals were slaughtered by the blind aerial strikes and 105mm howitzer shelling at Barangays Kuloy, Tapikan, Lapok, Dugungen, Malingao, Tina, Pamalian, Pusao, Pikeg, Bagonr Upam and Libutan.

 

Hundreds of sacks of rice and home properties and appliances were looted by the pillaging soldiers, reports said.

 

Thousands of evacuees are seeking refuge at Libutan Elementary School, Datu Tahir Ampatuan National High School, Mahad Libutan, Libutan Public Market, along the road and house-based fro more than a week already. Some have gotten sick already particularly children and aged. 

 

People are calling on international human rights groups to come in and conduct probe on the serious human rights violations committed on the civilians by government authorities.

These disgusting reports were relayed to luwaran time and again by Muslims civilians whose lives, properties and livelihood and respect to government were totally devastated by the AFP wipe out operations.

 

August 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

AFP Blockade Prevents Int. Humanitarian Aid to Muslim Refugees in Lanao del Nort

August 30, 2008

Iligan City – A relief worker confirmed that the AFP has imposed a food and humanitarian aid blockade on evacuation centers located in the Muslim municipalities of Lanao del Norte. The relief worker, who requested anonymity, complained to Luwaran that the AFP has prevented the UN Act for Peace Program, MERN, Peace and Development Advocates in Lanao, and Pakigdait, Inc., from distributing relief assistance such as food, medicines and other goods to Muslim refugees in Dilabayan, Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte today.

This same complaint was aired by a Muslim NGO official who said that indeed a food blockade has been imposed on Muslim communities in the war zones. While there is a free flow of humanitarian assistance to Christian refugee centers in Christian areas, she said Muslim refugees are not allowed by the military to receive the same aid assistance. This blatant discrimination, she further said, only shows that the military is anti-Muslim and anti-Moro.

 

Meanwhile, in a report from the war zones in Lanao del Norte, MILF Commander Bravo is reported to have attacked AFP positions in Nunungan, Poona Piagapo, yesterday after a satellite camp of the MILF 102nd Base Command was abandoned by the mujahideen and subsequently occupied by the military.

 

According to the same report, the attack could also be a response to Army Gen. Supnet who earlier dared Commander Bravo to a gunfight. The attack on AFP positions by Commander Bravo is said to have resulted, though unconfirmed, in the deaths of more than 30 soldiers. Accordingly, many of the dead casualties have not yet been recovered due to the ferocity of the attack by the MILF. The corpses are reported to be already in an advanced stage of decay.

 

In another development, an estimated number of two thousand government troops backed by heavy artillery and tanks have converged on the municipalities of Bayang, Binidayan and Lumbayanagui in Lanao del Sur. These municipalities are just a ‘stone’s throw away’ from Butig where the camp of Alim Abdulaziz Mimbantas, MILF Vice-Chairman for Military Affairs, and the satellite office of the MILF Peace Negotiating panel are both located.

 

According to field reports reaching Luwaran, the government troops are poised for an attack on the MILF in Butig. More reinforcements have been observed coming from Cagayan de Oro City and moving towards the direction of Bayang, Binidayan and Lumbayanagui.

 

August 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MILF: Constitutions are living documents

August 30, 2008      

“Good constitutions are living documents that allow changes or amendments to address problems that are not anticipated by their framers. A constitution should be concise, coherent, and flexible, and more importantly, not discriminatory to any particular group especially the minorities. The Philippine constitution is not the Bible or the Quran which is not subject for review or correction because they are deemed words of God.”

This was the statement of Muhammad Ameen, chairperson of the MILF secretariat, in response to stiff opposition of Filipino senators headed by Mar Roxas, and Franklin Drilon to the signing of the GRP-MILF Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD).

 

The two politicians, who are both Ilonggos, said the MOA-AD is unconstitutional and could pave the way for the dismemberment of the Philippines.

 

Drilon did not only petition the Supreme Court to declare the document unconstitutional but upped his opposition by spending huge amount of money for full page advertisement for two consecutive days in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the number one broadsheet in the Philippines today.

 

Roxas, on his part, appeared to have rested his entire presidential ambition to three platforms: 1). Anti-Moro stance and pro-settlers in Mindanao; 2) Direct appeal to Visayan-speaking peoples in Central Philippines; and 3) Pro-business groups especially the Makati Business Club, which supports his presidential bid.

 

Ameen, a student of law in Manila prior to the declaration of Martial Law in 1972, lambasted the two senators for being too shallow in their thinking, reminiscent of past centuries when Moro-Spanish confrontation was its height.

 

“Only when the totality of relationships of the Moros and Filipinos are redefined that there is going to be lasting peace in Mindanao,” he stressed, saying that since the annexation of the Bangsamoro homeland into the national territory of the Philippines in 1946, the Moros have always been treated a second class citizens by imperial Manila.

 

 “This injustice is fairly addressed when the government and MILF peace panels agreed to stipulate in the MOA-AD that the relationship of the Central Government and the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) shall be ‘associative in character’’, he asserted.

 

“Associative relationship is not about two independent states but about state and sub-state relationships,” both MILF panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal and senior member Datu Michael Mastura confirmed it when asked for comment. They were involved in crafting the original working draft (one a political science graduate and the other a full-pledged member of the bar). “We are both historians who have written books based on the narrative of the Bangsamoro people struggle,” they said, adding “we are engaged, too, in asserting their collective rights because we on the right side of history.”

 

When Iqbal and Mastura met Ambassador El Masry at the aborted signing ceremony of the MOA-AD the same line of questions were posed by the OIC envoy to them.  “A part of the redefining of totality of associative ties between the Bangsamoros and Filipinos”, they elaborated, [to El Masry] “is to revive commerce and trade at the BJE territory where borders intersect. They disclosed to Luwaran that the conduct of trade by the BJE is not a mark of secession, arguing that Taiwan or the Basque and Catalan enjoy similar arrangements, but remaining part of Spain.  Quoting El Masry who pointed out “Tanzania has been allowed to do that”, the MILF peace negotiators emphasized precisely that is not pure activity of foreign relations but more of global trade ties.

 

Ameen reminded the two senators that the agenda of the GRP-MILF Peace Talks agreed by the Parties in 1997 was and still is “How to solve the Bangsamoro Problem”.

 

“If Senators Drilon and Roxas still insist on the Philippine Constitution as framework of the negotiations, then they are not helping the peace process but sabotaging it,” he explained.

“The MOA-AD is a living testimony as to how far sovereignty and the right to self-determination can be balanced into a compromise political arrangement,” he explained further.

August 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

AFP continues to undermine ceasefire, devastating civilian communities

August 29, 2008

 

The Moro Islamic Liberation Muslim (MILF) and civilian communities hit the Armed Forces of the Philippines for its wanton violations to the ceasefire accord while pursuing punitive actions against the base commands of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Froces (BIAF) under Commanders Ameril Umbra Kato and Bravo Macapaar.

The AFP had been attacking the MILF main forces contrary to persistent claims that the actions were only directed to the groups of Commander Kato of the 105th Base Command and Commander Bravo of the 102n Base Command, a high ranking official of the General Staff of BIAF told luwaran.

He pointed out that from August 21 to 24, the AFP had been attacking the MILF Task Force Ittihad assigned in the municipalities of Shariff Aguak and Mamasapano. The AFP also fired at the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Elements (JCMEs) of the GRP – MILF Ceasefire Committees assigned at Barangay Lab of Shariff Aguak.

 

“These attacks were against the MILF main forces,” he said, adding that the AFP had employed indiscriminate air strikes, artillery and mortar shelling that had been hitting innocent Muslim civilians and their communities.

 

Why is the AFP attacking the MILF main forces if it its military actions are only against the Kato and Bravo’s group,” he asked.

 

Civilians similarly condemn the unabated atrocities being perpetrated by the government. Concerned local government units reported earlier that at least five civilians were already killed due to the indiscriminate attacks by the government.

 

More than 20,000 individuals were uprooted from their homes and their livelihood destroyed and belongings looted by the marauding soldiers. Several houses and properties were also hit by the AFP air strikes and shelling.

 

Civilians also relayed to luwaran their amazement seeing hundreds of soldiers with long hair and several tattoos in their bodies. “They look like fugitives if not drug addicts and not soldiers,” they told luwaran.

 

For three days now, MILF main forces near the liguasan marsh in the municipalities of Talitay, Talayan and Guindulungan, all of Maguindanao were heavily bombarded by air strikes and artillery shelling by the government. Thousand of innocent civilians already evacuated, suffering and leaving their meager sources of livelihood.

 

Forces of the 104th Base Command of the BIAF were being hit by these attacks of the AFP. In fact, two had been wounded since the attacks were launched two days ago.

 

MILF and civilian communities in Tawi-Tawi were also attack by the AFP yesterday. The BIAF unit in this province is the 117th Base Command.

 

In Lanao del Sur, Ahmad Lao, a member of the MILF Ceasefire Committee also chided the uncoordinated and unusual consolidation of AFP and movements of forces apparently toward Butig, Lanao del Sur, wherein the satellite office of the MILF Peace Negotiating Panel is situated and the MILF Vice Chairman for Military Affairs is holding office.

 

“The AFP is clearly and without hesitation violating the ceasefire accord,” Lao said.

 

Accordingly, two AFP battalions in full battle gear and complete with mortar assets and howitzers had been moving from different municipalities toward MILF Camp Bushra in Butig, Lanao del Sur.  

August 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Brunei Deputy Defense Minister and Chairman Murad Met

August 29, 2008

A high-level meeting was held recently between His Excellency Pehin Datu Singamanteri Col (B) Dato Seri Paduka Mohammad Yasmin, Deputy Defense Minister of Negara Brunei Darussalam, and MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad at Camp Darapanan . 

 

The Brunei diplomatic delegation also included the Permanent Secretary of the Deputy Defense Minister, Brunei Embassy Defense Adviser Col Maiddin, Brunei IMT Head of Contingent Col Tajuddin and the Aide de Camp.

 

Senior officials of the MILF Central Committee to include Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar for Political Affairs, Mohagher Iqbal Chairman of the MILF Peace Negotiating Panel were also present.

 

His Excellency Pehin gave assurances of unwavering commitment and strong support of the Brunei government headed by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, to the ongoing peace process between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

 

For his part, Chairman Murad conveyed the endless gratitude and fraternal fervor of the Bangsamoro people to the royal government of Brunei and her people strongly headed His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah

 

Earlier, the Brunei Deputy Defense Minister held a meeting in Manila with his Philippine counterpart Secretary Gilberto Teodora Jr of the Department of National Defense (DND), Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AF) Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano. 

 

Brunei has a 10-man contingent with the Malaysia-led International Monitoring Team (IMT) that principally monitors the ceasefire accord between the MILF and government. Relatedly, Brunei also expressed readiness to help in the socio-economic development aspect of the GRP – MILF peace process. 
 

August 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MILF mums on proposed ties with NDF

August 18, 2008
  
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is tight-lipped on the offer of Jose Maria Sison for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to join forces and confront the Philippine government as a “common enemy”.

In an interview with media yesterday, Mohagher Iqbal, chairman of the MILF committee on information and the Front’s chief peace negotiator, said he has no authority to comment on the matter.
 
“This is an issue that I cannot comment, he said.
 
In the past, the MILF was reported to have entered into a tactical cooperation with the NDFP on the ground, which gave the two liberation organizations at least two advantages:
 
1. Allows combatants of each party to pass by areas controlled by the other;

2. Prevents conflicts where the two parties have common presence such as in various areas in Davao, Zamboanga, and South Cotabato.
 
On Friday, Sison urged the MILF to join forces with the CPP’s National Democratic Front of the Philippines, saying they have a common enemy in the Arroyo government.

 

Sison also said the MILF should start fighting the government, which he said used the peace process as its latest vehicle to push for Charter change.

August 21, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

10 killed, 20 wounded in Lanao ambush

 

Auggust 18, 2008 

A convoy of the Philippine Army’s  501st Battalion of the Tabak Division (1st Infantry Division)  was ambushed by still unidentified armed men at around 8 am Sunday, August 17, at Barangay Ilian, Municipality  of Molundo, Lanao del Sur.  The convoy consisted of four (4) 6X6 Army trucks and one (1) ‘townis’ loaded with troops as well as two (2) Tamaraw FX vans carrying government militias belonging to CVOs.

 

A convoy of the Philippine Army’s  501st Battalion of the Tabak Division (1st Infantry Division)  was ambushed by still unidentified armed men at around 8 am Sunday, August 17, at Barangay Ilian, Municipality  of Molundo, Lanao del Sur.  The convoy consisted of four (4) 6X6 Army trucks and one (1) ‘townis’ loaded with troops as well as two (2) Tamaraw FX vans carrying government militias belonging to CVOs.

 

The battle between the government forces and the ambushers lasted for more than three hours. One of the army trucks carrying soldiers was totally damaged in the ambush. Its occupants were either killed or seriously wounded.


It was confirmed that initially seven (7) soldiers and three (3) CVOs were killed on the spot. More than twenty (20) have been seriously wounded. The wounded casualties were brought to Amai Pakpak Provincial Hospital in Marawi City while five of the more serious cases were brought to hospitals in Iligan City. Others were airlifted by Army choppers for unknown destination. It cannot be determined whether these were wounded or already dead. Soldiers sent to secure the hospital in Marawi City said they are still waiting for more than 10 wounded soldiers who are still unaccounted for after the ambush.


The military is now conducting clearing operations in the area and are trying to locate or retrieve what is believed to be more of the wounded or dead casualties left on the battlefield. Helicopter gunships are visibly seen hovering around the scene of the ambuscade.


The still unidentified armed group responsible for the ambuscade had swiftly withdrawn from the area after the three-hour gun battle. Some local people say these are illegal loggers who mistook the deployment of government troops as an operation against illegal logging activities.

Meanwhile, the MILF in Ranao has not claimed responsibility for the ambuscade. Despite the rising tension on the ground caused by the aborted signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) in Kuala Lumpur last August 5, the MILF has so far kept the tempers of the fighting men in the field under control. The fighting in North Cotabato is an exception because that was a matter of self-defense in the face of the policy of North Cotabato officials to eject Moro inhabitants of the province from their ancestral lands.

August 21, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

No Truth, Report that a Catholic Priest was held hostage in the Kolambogan Siege

 

August 18, 2008


Iligan City – There is no truth to an earlier report over the radio and which was circulated in text messages that a Catholic priest, Fr. Reggie Quijano, was held hostage by the armed group believed to be elements of the MILF that entered the municipality of Kolambogan, Lanao del Norte, at early morning of this day.

 

Fr. Quijano is the parish priest of Kolambogan and head of Pakigdait Incorporated, an NGO based in Lanao del Norte that is engaged in peace-building at the grass-roots level.


According to the report, which proved to be utterly false and apparently concocted by malicious elements out to foment a religious conflict between Muslims and Christians in the province, Fr. Quijano and a group of priests were held hostage by MILF elements when the latter captured and took over the municipal hall of Kolambogan. The Church where Fr. Quijano holds services is near the municipal hall.

 

There was even a report that Fr. Quijano was killed by his alleged captors or was caught in crossfire.

 

All of these reports, however, were proven to be baseless rumors when Fr. Quijano was interviewed live on Radio DZRH this morning. Fr. Quijano belied all the reports that said he and several other priests were made hostage by the MILF.

 

Meanwhile, another group of priests, this time from a Protestant denomination, the Philippine Independent Church, also denied a similar report that they were held captive by the MILF during the same incident. Interviewed over the same DZRH, the spokesman of the group explained that they sought cover from the fierce firefight between the MILF and government troops but there was no truth that they were taken hostage as alleged earlier by some media men who were out to sensationalize the whole incident by creating false reports.

 

The siege on and subsequent capture of Kauswagan and Kolambogan by guerillas believed to be MILF elements paralyzed all forms of activity and traffic along the Iligan-Pagadian-Zamboanga- Ozamis national highway.

 

The attack came in the heels of the controversy surrounding the aborted signing of the MILF-GRP Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, last August 5.

The MOA-AD was used by Filipino politicians, media, big business interests, some elements of the Church, and Mindanao settlers to viciously attack the peace negotiation, whip up an anti-Moro hysteria, and demonize anew the MILF, the Bangsamoro people, Islam, as well as members of the international community such as Malaysia and the United States of America for having been active in the peace process to resolve the conflict in Mindanao on the basis of justice.

 

The MILF leadership meantime revealed that it did not sanction nor had prior knowledge of the attacks on government forces and installations in Lanao del Norte. It attributes such attacks on the initiatives of ground commanders, assuming that they were responsible for these attacks, whose extreme frustration at the turn of events in the peace negotiation has impelled them to make tactical decisions at their level of commands.

August 21, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We didn’t use landmines in North Cotabato, MILF says

August 17, 2008 

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) vehemently denied accusation by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that it planted landmines in some villages in North Cotabato where series of fierce fighting took place starting July 1, this year.

Sammy Al-Mansoor, chief of staff of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), told Luwaran in an exclusive interview yesterday that the BIAF is following, aside from its Military Code of Conduct, which is laden with rules of engagement in Islam, the Geneva Conventions especially Protocol I and II..


He also disclosed that the MILF had signed a “Deed of Commitment” with the Geneva Call (GC), in tandem with the Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines (PCBL), on the ban of victim’s initiated anti-personnel landmines.

 

The GC is an international non-government organization, which engages non-state actors, like the MILF and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), on the non-proliferation of anti-personnel landmines.

 

Al Mansoor took exception to allegation by AFP Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Cardozo Luna, who was quoted as saying: “We really have this problem on landmines that wounded even one of our soldiers. That is why we are not allowing civilians to go back yet to their barangays. It is very dangerous. The MILF rebels have planted the villages with landmines.”

 

He said the MILF rebels reportedly used anti-personnel landmines that can be activated by use of pressure, tripwire or remote detonation.

 

“Unless we have cleared the affected areas of landmines will we allow the evacuees to get back to

 

August 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment