|CSO calls for ceasation of Hostilities in 2008.|
I am a resident of Jolo, Sulu. All my life, I had never been interested in politics. Being a Muslim, I am slightly fatalistic by nature. “What the hell,” I say, “as long as I can satisfy my hungry stomach three times a day and have a simple normal life, then to hell with all the sufferings around the world!”
But my recent involvement in a Civil Society Organization makes me furious about what the military is doing to my native place. The CSO assigned me to visit some areas of conflict in Sulu like (a) Ipil, Maimbung; (b) Marang, Indanan; and (c) Sitio Tandu Pukut, Indanan.
At these unlikely places, I realized that there are atrocities committed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against my beloved Sulu and its people.
All in the name of their pursuit of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), they are actually destroying the lives of the civilians, incapacitating them to have an honest and productive living. Let me explain.
First, in Ipil, Maimbung, the AFP assaulted sleeping civilians that killed eight people, including woman and children on February 04, 2008. They said that the operation was legitimate as a result of five months of surveillance activities to rescue the kidnapped victim, Rosalinda Lao. But the AFP did not find the ASG, but the armed wary group believed to have a feud with people in nearby areas. The operations therefore had become the fulfillment of the vendetta of a military intelligent or agent.
Second, In Marang, Indanan last April 30, 2008, the AFP’s bombardment of a place a kilometer away from the MNLF’s Camp Marang displaced thousands of civilians. They even accused a civilian’s house as a “bomb-making factory” of the ASG. The surgical strike that they conducted did not kill any ASG members. It was only successful in instilling fear into the civilian’s heart. It could also be just a mere provocation for MNLF soldiers to fight so that Chairman Misuari would be thrown back to jail after being been bailed out of jail just recently.
Lastly, in Sitio Tandu Pukut, Indanan on June 15, 2008, the AFP sent four rocket launcher grenade and 23 howitzer cannons to a civilian community. Their rationale was that to decimate the ASG in nearby Subah Timahu. Sulu Governor Sakur Tan had actually given permission to the AFP to conduct the bombardment. Sad to note, when we went to the area, I realized that it was not the ASG that they intimidated, but the woman and children and other honest-living folks in the area.
I have documentation to prove the reality of these atrocities.
As I interviewed the civilian victims, I almost cried of dismay. Their small farms were destroyed; their coconut and banana trees uprooted; their fishing boats reduced to smithereens. The fear and shock in women and children eyes were evident.
So, what is AFP’s business here in Sulu? Do they really want the Tausug to have peace? They are the Peace Keepers, they say. Moreover, are the Tausug politicians concerned about the welfare of their constituents? What have they done to alleviate the poor people sufferings and miseries?
If the Tausug people do not unite to have a one strong voice against the connivance of these people in power, I don’t know what would become of our race.
Fellow CSO! Remember that in truth, there is power. Unity is power.