Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bulatlat Honors my First Post

AFP Attacks Civilian Community in Sulu

A Call to Stop Bombing Civilian Communities in 2008.

Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 20, June 22-28, 2008

I am NTA, 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.

In these 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 killing eight
people, including a woman and children on February 04, 2008. They said that
the operation was legitimate, a result of five months of surveillance
to rescue the kidnapped victim, Rosalinda Lao. But the AFP did not find the

Second, in Marang, Indanan last April 30, the AFP’s bombardment of a place a
kilometer away from the Moro National Liberation Front’s (MNLF) Camp Marang
displaced thousands of civilians. They even pointed to a civilian’s house as
being a “bomb-making factory” of the ASG. The strike that they conducted
did not kill any ASG member. It was only successful in instilling fear among
the civilians. It could also be just a mere provocation for MNLF soldiers to
fight so that Chairman Nur Misuari would be thrown back to jail.

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.
purported aim was to decimate the ASG in nearby Subah Timahu. Sulu Governor
Abdulsakur Tan had actually given permission to the AFP to conduct the
bombardment. When we went to the area, I realized that it was not the ASG
they intimidated, but the woman and children and other civilians in the area.

I have documentation to prove these atrocities.

As I interviewed the civilian victims, I almost cried with dismay. Their small
farms were destroyed; their coconut and banana trees uprooted; their fishing
boats reduced to smithereens. The fear and shock in women’s and children’s
eyes were evident.

So, what is the AFP’s business here in Sulu? Do they really want the Tausug
to have peace? They are the Peacekeepers, they say. Moreover, are the Tausug
politicians concerned about the welfare of their constituents? What have they
done to alleviate the poor people’s 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. Posted by Bulatlat

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