Group calls for suspension of military offensives in Basilan

Also, the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) has urged President Arroyo to order the immediate pull-out government troops in Basilan.

This move, the group said, “would pre-empt the possible eruption of war, and avert its escalation to other parts of Mindanao, and the subsequent perpetration of widespread human rights violations.”

The Armed Forces of the Philippines has sent 5,000 Marines and Army soldiers in Basilan to conduct punitive actions against Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels allegedly responsible for the beheading of 10 Marines in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan, last July 10.

 

But the CBCS blames the military for the mess in Basilan.

If only the military hierarchy had respected and abided by the ceasefire agreement, this painful, horrible and costly incident would never have taken place,” the group said in a press statement.

The group expressed condolences to the family of Ustadz Matarul Hakim Alkanul, who was reportedly beheaded an hour before the military operations, as well as to the families of the Marines who were killed in the encounter.

We declare our collective abhorrence to any terrorist action perpetrated against innocent civilians, specifically those in Tipo-Tipo, and vehemently condemn those who are responsible for both incidents in the highest manner,” it stressed.

The group has also called on both parties to exercise restraint and sobriety so as to preserve the “gains” already achieved during years of negotiating peace.

As stakeholders of peace, we have savored and treasured all the gains reached by the peace talks so far. As such, we have become morally and legally obligated to preserve these gains as our peace dividends and for the future generations,” CBCS said.

When the peace talks started between the government and the MILF, the peoples of Mindanao subsequently became hopeful that a just and lasting peace would finally reign in their land. Bearing this common aspiration of the people in mind, both the GRP and the MILF peace panels strived hard to carry their respective mandates and missions to reach several milestones in the on-going peace process,” it added.

The group said it issued appeal to people in Luzon, Visayas, and in Mindanao to objectively understand the Basilan crisis and the kidnapping of Fr. Giancarlo Bossi.

Let us not be derailed or unduly influenced by the unnecessary ‘sensationalization’ of this issue by some parties with questionable interests. The Bangsamoro and the Filipinos have suffered enough from centuries-old animosities. Let us continue to build peace together in the Philippines in general and in Mindanao in particular,” said the group.

The statement was signed by Nathan Insung, CBCS regional chair for the Zamboanga peninsula region; Sultan Maguid Maruhom of Sibugay; Timojen Tulawie and Ustadz Rahib Kudto from Sulu; Oscar Sulaiman Sammy Buat from Rajah Buayan; and Sammy Maulana, acting secretary-general of the Human Rights and Justice CBCS central office.

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