DAVAO CITY— A Moro group blasted Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Mujiv Hataman’s all-out war pronouncement against Abu Sayyaf and warned that Malacanang-backed military offensives may also target innocent civilians.
Amirah Ali Lidasan, national president of Suara Bangsamoro said the all-out military offensive against Abu Sayyaf “would lead to more cases of human rights violations such as massive displacement of residents, death due to strafing and indiscriminate firing, destruction of properties, exposing women and children to harm.”
“Based on previous all-out war declarations, it is the civilians, their properties and livelihoods that were affected by the military assault. Suara Bangsamoro believes that such policy is prone to abuse of power by the authorities,” said Lidasan.
Since year 2000, the Armed Forces of the Philippines had been waging war against the Moro extremist group Abu Sayyaf in some identified areas in Mindanao known to be stronghold of the bandits.
Lidasan claimed that even with the presence of the US troops strategically deployed in these areas, “Abu Sayyaf continue to conduct their criminal activities in Mindanao while civilians have brutally suffered being casualties of war.”
Hataman’s statement came Monday after six government troops were killed in a recent ambush in Basilan. Hataman was quoted in a news report as saying “it is time to use the iron hand in dealing with the group because its members have victimized so many.”
Lidasan, however, accused Hataman of “contradicting himself when two years ago he and the other ARMM governors said ‘never again’ to all-out war policy in dealing with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).”
“During previous military operations against the Abu Sayyaf, there were also reports of military clashes with the MILF who are also in the mountainous area of Basilan.”
According to Lidasan, in year 2000, the death of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) commanders as a result of the spill over of “hot pursuit operations” against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu by the Armed Forces of the Philippines became “one of the reasons for the fall-out in the peace negotiation between the government and the MNLF.”
“The reason why the Abu Sayyaf thrives is because of the previous reports of collusion between state authorities and the Abu Sayyaf over the ransom money paid by victims of Abu Sayyaf kidnapping,” stressed Lidasan.
Lidasan has called for an investigation in the latest series of Abu Sayyaf kidnapping and the issues hounding the payment of ransom for the victims’ release (Mart D. Sambalud/davaotoday.com