Stop Disrespecting the Rights of Civilians

We, the undersigned leaders of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS), Inc., condemn the bad timing and indiscriminate way by which military operations were launched by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly the Philippine Marines, in barangays Kagay, Marang, Bud Timahu, Laum Siang, all part of the municipality of Indanan, Sulu on September 20, 2009.

According to local sources, this operation commenced with artillery fire from such areas as Bud Kagay and Bud Tumantangis where US troops who are part of the Balikatan exercises are known to be positioned, among others. This was followed up by an airstrike composed of bombs from OV-10 planes and rocket launchers from helicopters. The air strike was said to have lasted for eight (8) hours.
Although we acknowledge that this operation was against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), we question the procedure by which the Philippine Marines had made such an operation. We also question its timing. As part of the civil society sector, the foremost concern of CBCS are the safety and security of civilians.
Many civilians live in the targeted barangays. While during the kidnapping of ICRC volunteers, the military exerted all efforts to coordinate with local government officials and barangay chairmen and even exacted their support to ensure that the lives of the three kidnap victims not put to more risk, now the military did not make such effort of coordinating with the local chief executives to ensure the safety of the civilians prior to the operations.
This clear and obvious lapse, or even disregard, to procedure has caused the displacement of about two thousand (2,000) families. People whose safety and lives the military are supposed to protect. They are now found in Buansa Talatak, Indanan.
A high level of precision, competence, efficiency, and sense of humanity is expected of government agencies that are authorized to have their personnel carry weapons that have the ability to threaten the lives of people. If this military operation is another of the AFP’s “surgical operations”, then we do not consider it as “surgical” enough. We have yet to see a surgical operation done by the military that is true to form. What may be “surgical” to the AFP is seen as “very messy” to the general public.
The military operation was also done at the very time when the civilians in the targeted areas were busy preparing food and about to go to prayer to celebrate the holy day of Eid’l Fitr. Because of the operations, they were unable to perform their religious obligations and instead had to flee for their lives. This action is seen as a blatant disrespect to Islam, the religion and way of life of the Bangsamoro people.
We hate to think that this is a grandiose design by some ranking men in uniform to sabotage the impending resumption of the GRP-MILF peace talks and the tripartite review of the implementation of the GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement. Likewise, we hate to think that this is a part of a grand plot to derail the peaceful conduct of the forthcoming national elections. Moreover, we hate to think that this situation will ultimately escalate to mindset the general public that there is a threat to national security, validating future potential moves for the military to take power under the pretext of protecting the state.
We, therefore, call on HE Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to take strong action in disciplining her troops in Sulu and to be vigilant as Civilian President and be watchful of her generals in her capacity as Commander in Chief of the AFP. If indeed the government sees all in Mindanao as part of its constituency, regardless of religion, then these people have the right to have their safety and lives protected by the military. They have the right not to be mistreated, or not to be treated as collateral damage. They also have the right to be respected of their religion and religious practices.
Signed this 21st day of September, 2009 at Cotabato City, Southern Philippines.
(sgd.)                                            (sgd.)
SAMMY P. MAULANA                    TEMOGEN “Cocoy” TULAWIE
Secretary-General                        Chairperson, CBCS Lupah Sug Region
(Sulu)
(sgd.)                                              (sgd.)
NATHAN B. INSUNG                        MUNIB KAHAL
Chairperson,                                  Chairperson, CBCS Samboangan Region
CBCS Basilan Region                    (Western Zamboanga Peninsula)
(sgd.)                                              (sgd.)
SULTAN MAGUID MARUHOM         DR. DIPUNUDUN MARUHOM
Chairperson,                                  Chairperson, CBCS Ranaw Region
CBCS Sibugay Region                   (Lanao)
(Eastern Zamboanga Peninsula)
(sgd.)                                              (sgd.)
RAHIB KUDTO                                SAMAON BUAT
Chairperson,                                   Chairperson, CBCS Dabaw Region
CBCS Kutawato Region                  (Davao)
(Cotabato)
(sgd.)
OSCAR SULAIMAN
Chairperson, CBCS Rajah Buayan
(SOCSKSARGEN)

We, the undersigned leaders of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS), Inc., condemn the bad timing and indiscriminate way by which military operations were launched by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly the Philippine Marines, in barangays Kagay, Marang, Bud Timahu, Laum Siang, all part of the municipality of Indanan, Sulu on September 20, 2009.

According to local sources, this operation commenced with artillery fire from such areas as Bud Kagay and Bud Tumantangis where US troops who are part of the Balikatan exercises are known to be positioned, among others. This was followed up by an airstrike composed of bombs from OV-10 planes and rocket launchers from helicopters. The air strike was said to have lasted for eight (8) hours.

Although we acknowledge that this operation was against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), we question the procedure by which the Philippine Marines had made such an operation. We also question its timing. As part of the civil society sector, the foremost concern of CBCS are the safety and security of civilians.

Many civilians live in the targeted barangays. While during the kidnapping of ICRC volunteers, the military exerted all efforts to coordinate with local government officials and barangay chairmen and even exacted their support to ensure that the lives of the three kidnap victims not put to more risk, now the military did not make such effort of coordinating with the local chief executives to ensure the safety of the civilians prior to the operations.

This clear and obvious lapse, or even disregard, to procedure has caused the displacement of about two thousand (2,000) families. People whose safety and lives the military are supposed to protect. They are now found in Buansa Talatak, Indanan.

A high level of precision, competence, efficiency, and sense of humanity is expected of government agencies that are authorized to have their personnel carry weapons that have the ability to threaten the lives of people. If this military operation is another of the AFP’s “surgical operations”, then we do not consider it as “surgical” enough. We have yet to see a surgical operation done by the military that is true to form. What may be “surgical” to the AFP is seen as “very messy” to the general public.

The military operation was also done at the very time when the civilians in the targeted areas were busy preparing food and about to go to prayer to celebrate the holy day of Eid’l Fitr. Because of the operations, they were unable to perform their religious obligations and instead had to flee for their lives. This action is seen as a blatant disrespect to Islam, the religion and way of life of the Bangsamoro people.

We hate to think that this is a grandiose design by some ranking men in uniform to sabotage the impending resumption of the GRP-MILF peace talks and the tripartite review of the implementation of the GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement. Likewise, we hate to think that this is a part of a grand plot to derail the peaceful conduct of the forthcoming national elections. Moreover, we hate to think that this situation will ultimately escalate to mindset the general public that there is a threat to national security, validating future potential moves for the military to take power under the pretext of protecting the state.

We, therefore, call on HE Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to take strong action in disciplining her troops in Sulu and to be vigilant as Civilian President and be watchful of her generals in her capacity as Commander in Chief of the AFP. If indeed the government sees all in Mindanao as part of its constituency, regardless of religion, then these people have the right to have their safety and lives protected by the military. They have the right not to be mistreated, or not to be treated as collateral damage. They also have the right to be respected of their religion and religious practices.

Signed this 21st day of September, 2009 at Cotabato City, Southern Philippines.

(sgd.)                                                      (sgd.)

SAMMY P. MAULANA                    TEMOGEN “Cocoy” TULAWIE

Secretary-General                            Chairperson, CBCS Lupah Sug Region

(Sulu)

(sgd.)                                                       (sgd.)

NATHAN B. INSUNG                        MUNIB KAHAL

Chairperson,                                  Chairperson, CBCS Samboangan Region

CBCS Basilan Region                    (Western Zamboanga Peninsula)

(sgd.)                                              (sgd.)

SULTAN MAGUID MARUHOM         DR. DIPUNUDUN MARUHOM

Chairperson,                                  Chairperson, CBCS Ranaw Region

CBCS Sibugay Region                   (Lanao)

(Eastern Zamboanga Peninsula)

(sgd.)                                              (sgd.)

RAHIB KUDTO                                SAMAON BUAT

Chairperson,                                   Chairperson, CBCS Dabaw Region

CBCS Kutawato Region                  (Davao)

(Cotabato)

(sgd.)

OSCAR SULAIMAN

Chairperson, CBCS Rajah Buayan

(SOCSKSARGEN)

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