MILF wants int’l HR body to probe what happened in Basilan

Alonto told the gathering of leaders of civil society that the MILF “strictly follows the Islamic conduct of war and the Geneva conventions” and “does not have a record of desecrating the bodies of dead enemies.”

“On the contrary, the MILF has always fought the war in Mindanao in a civilized manner befitting that of an Islamic revolutionary organization and a legitimate liberation movement,” he said.

Alonto assured the families of the Marines that the MILF was not responsible for the beheading. He proposed that an international human rights body conduct an impartial inquiry “not only on the beheadings of the Marines but the brutal murder of the Imam who was mutilated in similar fashion,” he said.

“And until that investigation by an international human rights body is launched; until the results of such an investigation have come out, let us not talk of war,” Alonto said.

The government and MILF peace panels have a Joint Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities (JCCCH) that looks into reported violations of the ceasefire agreement.

The military’s version of the incident is that the  MILF guerrillas ambushed the Marines pursuing the kidnappers of Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi who was abducted in Zamboanga Sibugay exactly a month earlier, on June 10.

The AFP claimed 14 soldiers were killed, 10 of whom were beheaded, mutilated and robbed allegedly by the MILF who were allegedly joined by the Abu Sayyaf. Nine other Marines were wounded.

But the “Initial Result of the MILF’s Fact-Finding Investigation” by a team composed of three members (one senior member of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces General Staff, one Ustadz, and one political officer), showed that the Marines “completely disregarded the ceasefire agreement between the MILF and the government by conducting three prior military operations before the bloody encounter on July 10.”

On July 8, the Marines conducted military operation in Barangay Lipu Upas, Tipo-Tipo, Basilan “creating fear and chaos among the local inhabitants.” Limbu Upas is about three kilometers from Ginanta where the July 10 encounter took place.

On July 9, the same Marines made a follow-up operation and entered Barangay Linuan, Al-Barkah town, the defense perimeter of an MILF area at an adjacent barangay of Ginanta, which is well known to the AFP because the MILF had conducted a peace advocacy program there on June 2, that was fully coordinated with the MILF-GRP CCCH.

On July 10, at 7 a.m., the report added, the Marines under the command of Major Marcelino entered Barangay Linuan again where they disarmed one MILF member, Hadji Hakim, of his carbine rifle and divested one other MILF member of his “tiger uniform and MILF patches.”  When reminded by MILF members that the Marines were already encroaching on an MILF area ”covered by the ceasefire agreement,” the Marines said: “We do not recognize any MILF area. The entire Philippines is ours.”

The MILF report said that at around 9 a.m., the Marines entered Ginanta, Al-Barkah (formerly Tipo-Tipo), where the MILF forces and camp are located.  A firefight ensued.

The MILF alleged that the “fighting was directly initiated and provoked by the Philippine Marines. It was a legitimate eight-hour encounter. There was no ambush.”

The encounter was from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“At 5 p.m., a ceasefire was in place, as arranged by the MILF CCCH and the GRP CCCH (Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities).

The MILF fighters were ordered to disengage and leave the battle scene completely but they conducted a clearing operation before they left the scene.

“Not one was beheaded or mutilated,” the report said.

Five MILF members died and six were wounded in the clash.

The report further detailed that “at around 6 p.m. of the same day, the MILF Local Monitoring Team (LMT) informed Marine Major Macatuon that the MILF fighters had withdrawn and the area of battle was cleared.”

At 9 p.m., Marine Col. Almadrones informed the MILF-LMT that there were ten (10) Marines held by the MILF as “captives.” After a thorough verification, no Marine was captured by the MILF.

On July 11,  at around 5:30 am, the MILF guerrillas conducted an inspection of the battle scene and  found six dead Marines already beheaded and one old man hacked in the back, his throat slashed so that his head was almost severed from his body. The old man was later identified as 69 year-old Imam Hakim Ali or Alkanul.

The MILF Investigating Team also reported that the Marines “forcibly took Imam Alkanul from his house in Ginanta and coerced him into accompanying them to where the MILF base is located.”

They also forced him to carry some of their load, especially ammunition. When the firing started, Alkanul was with the Marines. His body, “hogtied and bearing deeply inflicted wounds and his head almost severed from his neck, was found alongside the fallen Marines,” the report said.

Alonto theorized that a third party is fomenting a big war in Mindanao.

He alleged that “this secret group wants a regime change but to achieve this objective they believe that a big war in Mindanao has to take place. Their assumption is that based on experience, a big war in Mindanao will weaken the regime in power in Manila, thus, making it easy for a military-civilian revolt a la EDSA to succeed in toppling it down.”

He added that this group has three major stages in its plan. “First, is the creation of situations in Mindanao that would demonize the Moro liberation fronts and the Bangsamoro people; intensify acts of terrorism and attribute these to the Moro fronts or “terrorist groups” in the secret payroll of some people in the military establishment. This would generate public outcry that would in turn shape public opinion in favor of an all-out war against the Moro liberation movement in Mindanao-Sulu.”

“Second, provoke the Moro fronts, notably the MILF, into a war that would practically embroil the whole of Mindanao into conflict. Consign the peace process and the ceasefire agreement to the backburner. The war should last until it has siphoned off the last economic life-blood of the ruling regime,” Alonto said.

"And finally, the ensuing political instability and pervasive country-wide dissatisfaction bordering on mass uprising will open the opportunity for the group to launch a ‘popular’ revolt that would topple down the ruling regime after which a new ‘national government of reconciliation’ controlled by the cabal will now come into being,” he said.

“The peace process will become a sacrificial lamb in this national conspiracy,” he concluded.

Alonto said Basilan was chosen as a venue for the political plan because “Basilan is the ‘home province’ of the Abu Sayyaf Group. Therefore, it is not difficult to spread the propaganda lie that the MILF and the ASG are linked and/or that the MILF provides sanctuary and protection to the ASG. This is already being harped on in the recent Basilan encounter. And to the gullible public ignorant of the MILF’s staunch aversion to anarchist groups that do not follow the rules of war, this is believable.”

Julio Tan, country representative of Volunteer Service Organization (VSO) who attended said forum, said “we must pursue truth; clamor for fair investigation.” (Violeta M. Gloria/MindaNews)

 

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