Friday, August 10, 2012

Military urged to stop military operations in Basilan

From the Website of Luwaran - MILF

Military urged to stop military operations in Basilan

August 4, 2012 News: A militant non-government organization, based in Quezon City, has urged the military to stop its military operation in Basilan immediately in deference to the fasting month of Ramadan among Muslims throughout the world.

Amirah Lidasan, spokeswoman of the Moro-Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA), has told Luwaran of the ongoing ground and aerial operations conducted by military forces under the Western Mindanao Command (WMC), which have already caused forcible evacuation of residents and destruction of houses in Sumisip, Basilan.

She disclosed that to date, the Department of Social Work and Development – Region IX has accounted more than 1,961 families affected from the villages of Sumisip (Mebak, Upper Cabengbeng, Sapabulak) and Ungkaya Pukan (Materling, Tongbatu, Ulitan).

In a press statement by her, she disclosed that at 7:30 AM on July 26, WMC’s 11thc Scout Ranger Company of the 4th Scout Ranger Battalion of the Philippine Army conducted a military operations in Upper Cabengbeng village of Sumisip town in Basilan purportedly to flush out Abu Sayyaf bandits encamped in that area.  Ten Scout Rangers were killed and 17 others were wounded which then lead to the decision of WMC to pull out the 64th IB from Lanao del Sur to augment the military forces in Basilan.
She made exception to the WMC statement that they are respecting the holy month of Ramadan, saying that the ongoing military operations has violated the holy observance of fast that started in July 21.

“We thought that the intervention of the national government, through the visit of the Deparment of National Defense, would help calm the situation,” she stated, adding that instead, additional forces are deployed in the area.

WMC spokesperson Colonel Randolph Cabangbang said that military operations will continue purportedly to find “justice” for the fallen soldiers.

The supposed military operation is a retaliation of the military to the ambush made by the group of certain Wyms “Bakoy” Wakil last July 20 to workers of a rubber plantation in Sumisip.  However, Wyms Wakil is known more in the province not as an Abu Sayyaf leader but more as a disgruntled former chairman of the Tumahubong Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Integrated Cooperative (TARBIDC) who leads a private army supposedly controlled and supported by certain family of politicians in Sumisip.

Lidasan disclosed that this is not the first time that military operations are conducted during Ramadan in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and other Moro areas, and enumerated since 2007, MCPA had been condemning military operations during Ramadan in Sulu, Basilan and North Cotabato.

She said that in 2008, reports of military offensives during Ramadan has reached the United Nation Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

She described the hard situation of the civilians: “It is a double burden for residents who are running out of their communities while fasting. Not only does it affect their physical capacity to fast (no intake of water and food), their religious intentions for spiritual reflection and increased devotion and worship are disturbed due to displacement and destruction of their communities.  During Ramadhan, the breaking of fast called Iftar and special congregational prayers such as Taraweeh and Laylat al-Qadr conducted in the evening and midnight, are supposed to be a community gathering and endeavor.”

“We are worried that the fighting might spill-over to the areas in Ungkaya Pukan where communities are known to have presence of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.  Should this take place, it will have an effect to the ongoing GPH-MILF talks,” she warned.

MILF Website