AFP ‘test missions’ during Ramadhan slammed

Oct. 01, 2007

DAVAO CITY — The Moro group Suara Bangsamoro has denounced the Philippine military for allegedly conducting last month a test mission that resulted in the death of several soldiers and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

In a statement, Amirah Ali Lidasan, Suara’s national president, said the test mission, which was conducted on Sept. 25 in Silangkom, a village in Ungkaya Pukan town, Basilan, also resulted in the wounding and displacement of civilians.

The mission, Lidasan added, was disrespectful to Muslims because it was conducted even while Ramadhan was being observed.

It is difficult for our brothers and sisters in the war-torn areas of Basilan to observe one of the important pillars of Islam when the guns and bombs of the Philippine Army are aimed at them, Lidasan said, adding that Moro civilians are vulnerable to the military operation conducted during Ramadhan for most of them are weak due to whole day of fasting.

Lidasan cites media reports that seven students were killed in the encounter including a 16-year-old student Nadzala Zailon who is still in critical condition, according to PNP officials in Basilan.

The military should explain how could a civilian be hit by a stray bullet if indeed offensives against Abu Sayyaf during Ramadhan are ‘selective,’ as Esperon claims, so as not to disturb the Muslims observance of fasting, said Lidasan, referring to AFP chief of staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon.

According to the residents of Ungkaya Pukan, the military operation took place in a known MILF-influenced area, hence most of those reported killed were MILF and civilians in the community.

Suara Bangsamoro is calling on Congress and the Senate to look into the recent encounter and test missions of the Philippine Army during Ramadhan and its impact on the current peace negotiations between the GRP and the MILF. (

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