All right, the military has already forwarded its press releases to the major publications in the country so the news of the bombing incident in Sitio Marang, Indanan, Sulu appears to be just another operation designed to crack down the Abu Sayaaf Group (ASG) and Jamaah Islamiyah (JI) bandits. Upon visiting the bombing site, however, many questions and doubts crept into these writers’ mind, at the top of which was the worst discrepancies of the military’s report to that of the civilian’s point of view. Are the readers not feed up with the one-sided reports that the military bombards at them?
Theoretically, one of the best weapons in any war was a “surprise attack.” The Marines and Army Special Forces applied the principle when they assaulted the assumed ASG and JI “training camp” last April 30, 2008 at Sitio Marang. But then, the welfare of the civilians should always be considered at all times. To avoid “collateral damage,” the military should at least warn the head of the place against the imminent attack so that the civilians have time to pack and run away to avoid being caught in the crossfire. The military failed to do that little humane gesture.
“Inatake nila ang baryo namin kahit walang coordination sa aking asawang Barangay Captain (Gani Nur),” Mrs. Satra Nur said when she was interviewed in one of the IDP sites at Kagay, Indanan, Sulu. “Sana naman nagpasabi sila bago nila ginawa para naman nakapagbigay kami ng babala sa aming kabarangay.”
So while the civilians were fleeing for their lives in the middle of the night, the military just fired all their big air and land weapons towards the area without considering the welfare of the fleeing civilians. Shrapnel of a guided American Missile was even found in the area. An old wizened witness claimed of the presence of the White American Chopper in the scene of the assault.
But the military were not able to justify their allegation that indeed there was an ASG or JI camp in the area. The assault only destroyed the peaceful living of the residents who were mainly farmers. For luck of hard evidence, the joint military forces ransacked each abandoned house in the vicinity until they found the house of a certain farmer Halibbun and his wife Widad. The couple kept a battery in their house to keep their little household appliances working and also to cater to the needs of the community’s recharging their cell phones, etc. Unfortunately for the couple, their house became the “bomb factory” overnight to fit the needs of the military to pinpoint some illegality in the area.
Surprisingly still, the Marines and Army Special Forces’ “surprise attack” that should have decimated the whole bandits’ population yielded only one dead and two wounded, if a senior military official should be believed. Yet, Marang refugees reported hearing continued firing of bullets and cannon shells from 12:30am of April 30 to 3:00pm of May 1, 2008.
The nearness of the attack to the acknowledged Camp of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in the place seemed to be more than coincidental. A huge bomb crater materialized just a few feet away from the MNLF camp. So the assault could have been directed at the MNLF after all, a Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society’s member said. In other words, any MNLF guerillas that would panic and return fire were tantamount to suicide. Worst still, the panicked MNLF guerilla would be branded as “aider” or abettor to the terrorist group ASG and JI.
Yet, the Barangay Captain Gani Nur maintained, “Ang sitio Marang ay kilalang lugar ng MNLF. Walang Abu Sayaff at JI sa lugar namin.”
Yet again, the release on bail a few weeks ago of the political detainee Prof. Nur Misuari, Chairman of the MNLF, could also be the reason why the attack ever took place, a refugee pondered.
In a statement, Prof. Misuari opined that the military did not like his temporary freedom that’s why they provoked the remaining MNLF loyalists to fight against the government’s troops so that he (Misuari) could be thrown back to jail.
Another concern person of the JAGA Lupah Sug, a human rights advocates group, stressed that the assumed camp of the ASG and JI being near to an acknowledged MNLF camp at Sitio Marang was a blatant move to discredit the MNLF loyalist as “coddlers of the terrorist.”
It is therefore apparent, that the military’s action was only to serve their own selfish and devilish ends to soothe their wounded pride. What the military had succeeded in the attack was only to show their inutile, incompetent, and moronic intelligence once again. Who did the military attacked as ASG bandits in Basilan last January 2001? Answer: the political enemy of the late Wahid Akbar. What about the Ipil massacre on February 2008? Answer: the unprotected and humble fishermen’s family and their children.
If the military forces persist in their happy-go-lucky-and-trigger-happy way, we can never be sure of the dictum “military protects the civilians at all times.” The civilians therefore must unite together to defend themselves against the atrocity of the military forces.