DAVAO CITY – A group launched a humanitarian campaign Friday to help internally-displaced persons amid a massive military operation in the central Mindanao province of Maguindanao.
United Church of Christ of the Philippines Bishop Hamuel Tequis, spokesperson of the People’s Council for Nationa Unity, Reforms and Peace, said they will collect “as small and symbolic as a fistful of rice” for IDPs for several barangays in Central Mindanao.
Tequis said their target areas are the municipalities of Datu Hoffer Ampatuan, Datu Salibo,Datu Saudi-Ampatuan, Datu Unsay, Mamasapano, Pagalungan, Rajah Buayan, Shariff Aguak (Maganoy), and Shariff Saydona Mustapha in the province of Maguindano and Pikit in North Cotabato.
Armed Forces Chief, General Gregorio Pio Catabang, ordered the all-out military offensive on Wednesday against the Moro rebel faction Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) based in Maguindanao.
In an interview, Catapang said they launched an offensive against the BIFF because they “attacked communities, (is a) threat to national security and the peace situation in Mindanao.”
Various reports say that the pouring of soldiers into the area has displaced 50,000 individuals to avoid getting trapped in the crossfire, prompting the province of Maguindanao to declare a state of calamity to allow the local government to access its calamity funds.
The AFP is supposed to end the offensive Wednesday but has extended it until Sunday.
Bai Ali Indayla, spokesperson of Moro human rights group Kagawib, said the “all-out-offensive is reminiscent of all-out war declarations of previous administrations against the Moro people.”
“The Moro people and a majority of Filipinos are already fed-up with the term all-out war, the all-out offensive is just a sweetened version of it,” said Indayla.