Muslim groups against military assault

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ZAMBOANGA CITY: Human rights group Suara Bangsamoro on Tuesday warned that a full offensive against the militant Abu Sayyaf Group in Basilan province could lead to civilian abuses and destruction of properties as well as massive displacement of people.

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A battalion of Marines was sent to Basilan recently to reinforce army troops battling the Abu Sayyaf in the restive province.

Suara Bangsamoro made the warning after Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Mujiv Hataman on Monday recommended an all-out offensive against the Abu Sayyaf which was responsible for the deaths of six soldiers, including a young army officer, in a recent clash in Basilan’s Sumisip town, a known stronghold of the jihadist group and birthplace of the politician.

Amira Lidasan, the national president of Suara Bangsamoro, cautioned Hataman—the younger brother of Rep. Hadjiman Hataman-Salliman—in his all-out war announcement against the Abu Sayyaf fearing that civilians will be targeted in the military assault.

“Such policy is prone to abuse of power by the authorities and 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,” she explained.

Lindasan said previous wars against the Abu Sayyaf tied to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya had resulted in the exodus of civilians whose properties and livelihoods were affected by military operations. She said that in 2000, the government ordered a massive military assault, backed by United States military forces, against the Abu Sayyaf and the biggest casualties were the civilians while the Abu Sayyaf still continues its criminal activities.

Lidasan also accused Hataman of contradicting himself when two years ago he and the other governors in the autonomous region said “never again” to all-out war policy in dealing with rebels.

She reminded Hataman that in the previous military operations against the Abu Sayyaf, there were also reports of military clashes with Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels who are also in the mountainous area of Basilan.

Various Muslim groups also opposed a full-scale offensive against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu province where security forces are pursuing the militants, saying, it would affect and displaced tens of thousands of innocent civilians.

President Benigno Aquino 3rd has ordered security forces to sustain the operations against the Abu Sayyaf and at the same time said the government is also trying to bring progress to the region by constructing infrastructure.

“Ina-assure tayo ng ating militar at kapulisan na supisiyente ang ating mga pwersa para malipol itong mga masasamang-loob na ito [The military and the police are assuring us that our security forces are sufficient to round these bad elements],” Aquino said.

He said the military has deployed several infantry battalions to sustain the operations against the Abu Sayyaf which is still holding more than a dozen Filipino and foreign hostages in Mindanao.

“Kapag several [battalions], hindi one or two, hindi three— several battalions composed of some of our most elite forces and the regular line infantry battalions, are going to all of these mountain lairs and very heavily wooded jungle and dense areas to precisely deprive them of [their]safe havens,” he added.

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6 Comments

  1. The feeling of majority toward the President order to eliminate the Militant maybe right but do they have the chance to think for a moment the would be impact of the operation? Every single civilian will die, ten relatives will get mad and join the militants in the fight against the government. Would the problem in the area be solved by just Military Operation? FVR is heaven and earth with PNOY in comparison. FVR as president with unaccounted Military experience and Military himself had passed on the path of PEACE that resulted in the neutralization of the MNLF under Chairman Misuari. Erap the arrogant President was acting like a movie star went into war with the MILF and lost more than 2000 precious life of the young soldiers with others left in the field still unaccounted up to this time. PNoy was tested at war with his Chief of Staff and some Cabinet Secretary beside him supervising the Zambonga Siege with only a few square kilometers. It toke more than a month to isolate and wiped out the Rebels. PNoy has driven out the rebels but failed to return the normal life of those affected people in the area with many evacuees still stranded at the Zamboanga City street in their rotten tents without water, light and sanitary toilet. What more when the fight would happen in the whole area of Basilan and drag on to the other provinces. History reminded us that Basilan did not fall into the hand of the Military might since the time of President Marcos. Some quarters of the opposing Rebels are just waiting for the chance like the plan military operation to ignite with the wish to spread it all throughout Mindanao. Can a President as an economist be more effective than a well trained Military President at war? Was a well decorated General and President wrong on his accepted path for PEACE? The President could do what he wanted but at the end of the day a sure and bitter result will come out. Heroism could not be eaten by the family of the fallen young soldiers would be.

    • Unfortunately this is reality, some things must be solved using violence. The president should first consider the status of the civilians before doing any more acts.

  2. civilians who will not give information on Abus and instead helping them should be branded as members of the terrorists and should be subject to abuse if necessary. Just go and wipe out this animals no more question asks.

    • Military solution alone could not do anything at war except damages. America the world acknowledged super power failed around the world in their attempt to suppressed the militants. What they got was the downfall of their economy and thousands of soldiers mentally rehabilitated with others still remained in the hospital for proper psychological checkup and mitigation.

  3. The civilians should help get rid of ASG instgead of cuddling them. Else they will be just considered as collateral damage. Human rights advocates are one sided. You don’t hear anything from them when these lawless elements (ASG, MNLF,MILF, BFF, NPA, etc) do human rights violations.