DAVAO CITY – A Moro group condemned the all-out offensive of the armed forces against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) because civilians are bearing the brunt.

Armed forces Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, Jr. ordered the all-out offensive against the BIFF on Wednesday.

Catapang claimed the offensives will protect the communities against the BIFF who the military claims to have formed an alliance with the alleged terrorist Basit Usman, one of the targets of the foiled Operation Exodus last January 25.

But according to Jerome Sucor Aba, spokesperson of Suara Bangsamoro, security forces of the government have attacked Sitio Quary, Brgy. Maitumaig in Datu Unsay Friday and the residents were “forced to evacuate at 8:00 in the morning.”

“Two hours after, the state forces started ground and aerial assaults destroying some houses,” Aba said in a statement Friday.

Aba said one resident, Noria Kamid, 45, farmer and a resident of the said village “complained that military helicopters started shooting at their community.”

“A pregnant woman, Aga Zulkarnin, 27, and married with five children also complained that the military on the ground and helicopters started shooting at them,” Aba said.

Aba said almost “12 barangays from three municipalities were affected because of the aerial bombardment and mortar shelling.”

The barangays included two from the town of Sharif Saidona, namely Pamalian and Sharif Saidona Mustapha;  eight from Sharif Aguak – Tina, Malingaw, Mungkas, Bagong, Maibunga, Kolumpang, Peking, Dagutom; and two from Datu Unsay, namely Maitumaig and Iganagampong.

Suara Bangsamoro believes that the encampment of the military in the areas near the civilian community “has put in danger the lives of the residents.”

Aba said residents reported that the military has also positioned their forces in civilian communities three days before the attack.

“Aside from that, at least 17 amphibian tanks are positioned from the crossing round ball of the municipality of Datu Saudi to Crossing Pagatin and 26 units of 6×6 military trucks,”  he said.

The group believes that the military offensive “is an overkill.”

“We criticize the police and military aggression. This might escalate in Maguindanao and spill over in neighboring areas, as the AFP deploys several units and composite teams of state forces reportedly in search of Usman and other terrorists,” Aba said.

Suara Bangsamoro also fears that this could be used to “veer away public’s attention at the investigation of the Mamasapano incident.”

Meanwhile, Abu Misry Mama, spokesperson of the BIFF, told reporters that they are concerned with the civilians who will be affected by the army’s offensives.

Progressive forces in Davao City also called for a cessation of the military’s all-out offensive.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Mindanao Region (BAYAN-SMR) spokesperson Sheena Duazo said the AFP attacks could be used as a “smokescreen for further US-influenced operations similar to what happened in Mamasapano”.

“The ongoing offensives are similar to Oplan Exodus in their nature. As such, the puppet Aquino regime continues to pit Filipinos against Filipinos,” Duazo said.

Duazo said that the civilian populations in the affected areas stand to lose the most in the AFP’s campaign.

“The grief of the families and the economic insecurity that they suffer in the course of war are the ultimate casualties in the US’s military involvement in the country,” she said. (davaotoday.com)

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