THE Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines (PCBL) and its international partner organization Foundation Suisse De Deminage (FSD or Swiss Foundation for Mine Action) condemned the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) for using victim-activated improvised explosive devices (IED) in clashes with government troops in Mindanao.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is still engaged in clearing operations in Barangay Tee, Datu Salibu in Maguindanao province to remove IEDs scattered by the BIFF in the area and which poses danger to the civilians.
“Victim-activated IEDs have the same function and effects as the globally banned anti-personnel landmines and violate international humanitarian law. These indiscriminate weapons do not distinguish between combatants and civilians. Even a child could trigger such devices to explode,” the PCBL and the FSD said in a joint statement.
The PCBL and FSD also appealed to the BIFF to follow the commitment of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to stop the practice of using landmines or any other victim-activated explosives.
“The BIFF can take heed from the MILF who unilaterally declared in 2000 as an official policy that they will not use anti-personnel landmines and victim-activated improvised explosives in their armed struggle. The MILF views the use of these weapons as against the teachings of Islam,” the groups said.
“This crucial decision by the MILF has saved countless innocent lives and altered the future of the Bangsamoro for the better, and has helped to avoid the challenges of unusable land littered with explosives and landmines which continue to claim innocent lives in neighboring countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam,” they added.
Government peace panel chair Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer echoed these calls and criticized the BIFF for their action that would risk civilian lives in the process.
“We must not allow our fields and streets to become minefields. No political nor military objective justifies endangering the lives of civilians,” she said.