DAVAO CITY , Philippines — A progressive Moro said, on Tuesday, that the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ war against Muslims in Mindanao is far from over, noting that there’s an increase of military deployments in Mindanao.
“The AFP’s war against the Moro people is not over, it is in fact intensifying with the deployment of 75 percent of the AFP forces in Mindanao,” Jerome Aba, speaking for Suara Bangsamoro said.
Aba was reacting to the statement of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. when he declared last October 6 that the armed conflict between the military and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was finally over.
Galvez met MILF chairperson Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim when he visited the MILF’s Camp Darapan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.
“Even though the MILF is transitioning towards closely working with the Duterte administration and his security forces, war against the Moro people is far from over as long the government’s counterinsurgency program and resource grab aggressively targets the Bangsamoro,” Aba said.
The Moro people are forced to defend themselves from military attacks in their communities, stand up against the military and their terror-tagging and land grabbing of Moro lands by the government and foreign corporations, said Aba.
“The Moro people are more inclined to reach out to revolutionary forces in Mindanao to continue their struggle in defense of their communities and their people and their right to self-determination and freedom,” he stressed.
Aba said President Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao gave “license” to the AFP to kill and arrest innocent civilians in Moro communities and cover their crimes by accusing the victims as members or sympathizers of Abu Sayyaf, Maute or other groups that pledged allegiance to ISIS.
“War against the Moro people will escalate as the government continue to aggressively implement economic programs at the expense of the people,” he said.
Resource-rich Moro areas are constantly being bombarded to flush out residents under the guise of flushing out terrorists, glossing over reports of innocent civilians killed, houses destroyed or homes looted, according to Aba.
The aerial bombardments conducted by the AFP have taken a toll on the Moro communities as evidenced in the case of a pregnant woman who died due to mortar shelling conducted by the AFP against the BIFF in Liguasan Marsh on June 2018.
Liguasan Marsh is a 288,000 hectare of marshland in Central Mindanao that is reported to have oil and natural gas deposits.
“Pursuit of terrorists has been a convenient excuse to hide AFP atrocities against the Moro people,” Aba said, adding that last month, seven Tausug youth-farmers harvesting their crops were killed by the AFP while in pursuit of ASG men in Patikul, Sulu.
Last year , the government resorted to aerial bombardment of Marawi City in pursuit of the Maute group which left 1,000 killed, at least 37 mosques, 44 madrasah facilities, 22 schools destroyed, and at 3,000 cases of houses looted by the AFP, according to Maranaw leader Sultan Abdul Hamidullah Atar.
“There are 27,000 families still homeless and barred from returning to ‘ground zero’ because the government plans to construct a military camp and economic zone,” Aba said.
Apart from aerial bombardment, the crackdown against Moro human rights workers continuous as the vilification of AFP intensified as well.
Last month, Babu Meriam Uy Acob, a paralegal volunteer in Maguindanao was killed in Mamasapano. Worse, even a drug raid was used by the AFP as an excuse to massacre nine MILF members of the 105th base command of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Force (BIAF) in Matalam, North Cotabato on May this year. Vilification of Moro rights advocates will make them more vulnerable to violation of their rights, Aba said.(davaotoday.com)