MRLO to Bangsamoro: Continue to Fight for Moro People’s Rights

Jihad Al-Kursi
Moro Resistance and Liberation Organization (MRLO)
25 August 2012

The Moro Resistance and Liberation Organization (MRLO) is calling for the Moro people to continue their fight against injustice and forward the rights of the Moro people for self-determination.

MRLO condemns the series of military operations initiated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines against Moro communities in Mindanao as a way to provoke armed groups including the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) to fire back during the holy month of Ramadhan.

The Ramadhan offensives launched in different towns of Basilan, Maguindanao, Lanao, North Cotabato and Zamboanga-Sibugay started in the period of July 26 to August 24 have already affected more than 50,000 families who have evacuated in fear of escalating violence in their communities, killed two children due to military strafing in Maguindao and Marawi and wounded several civilians including a pregnant woman.

Led by infantry battalions under the Western Mindanao Command and the 6th Division, military officials used as an excuse their pursuit operations against lawless elements and MILF lost commands who attacked military detachments stationed in Moro communities.

Prior to attacks against military detachments, several reports of human rights violations perpetrated by the 65th IBPAand 103rdBrigade in Lanao del Sur and1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade in the former Ampatuan areas in Maguindanao have been brought to attention by the civilians to several human rights groups, including panels of the Government of the Philippines and MILF peace talks.  The challenge therefore is how to address these violations.

MRLO takes into consideration the BIFF’s justification of their raids against military detachments stationed in Maguindanao and North Cotabato.  Days before their attack in a military detachment in Datu Saudi Ampatuan on August 4, some BIFF member stationed in former Camp Omar in the 2nd District of Maguindanao suffered casualties as elements of CAFGUs attacked their post and killed one of their members.

More important, the BIFF has already pronounced its disagreement with the MILF over the course that the peace talks is taking, where military operations against MILF communities continue despite existing peace negotiation and ceasefire mechanisms are in place.

In Lanao del Sur, several reports of harassment and killings perpetrated by the 103rd Infantry Brigade and Marines deployed as security forces in Mindanao State University and surrounding communities in Marawi City pushed civilians to initiate attacks on their detachments.  The attack on an army detachment on August 8 killed several soldiers which then led to the Amy to seal off the university for 24 hours to drive out those who made the attacks, frisking students, teachers and residents, confiscating their laptops and cellphones, and even illegally arresting and detaining law students on suspicion that they are the ones behind the attack.

In Zamboanga-Sibugay, the local government efforts to initiate a local peace talk with the MILF-BIAF leaders in Camp Salman in the town of Tungawan on July 30 was undermined by military efforts to subdue the group by launching pursuit operations against “criminals” hiding in their communities.  On August 5, the son of an MILF commander was killed and an MILF member was wounded by a baranggay leader in Tigbanuang, believed to be very supported by the military.  The MILF ambushed an 6x6 AFP truck on August 6 in Bgy. Kayamkam, an incident that the military is waiting for to launch a full military offensives to MILF’s Camp Salman.

Since the botched talks about the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) on August 2008, the GPH-MILF peace talks have been a series of reported violations both on paper and in the ground.  It seemed that government troops deployed in Moro communities are poised to strike during or every after GPH-MILF peace talks.

President Benigno Aquino III who takes his cue from the US counterinsurgency program, washes his hands off the violations made by the AFP to cover his administration’s two-pronged (double-bladed) approach to the talks – continuing military offensives to force the MILF to a compromised agreement. The 2009 US Counter-Insurgency Guide is clear in its objective to make revolutionary groups surrender through all-out annihilation and through demobilizaton, disarmament and reintegration (DDR) approach.

To salvage the stand-off in the talks last year, the GPH had to stop/clamp the MILF from publicly releasing the result of the investigations as to how Aquino’s All-Out Justice Campaign against MILF in Basilan and Zamboanga-Sibugay resulted to several violations against civilians and even to the ceasefire agreement with the MILF.

The Moro people have nowhere to turn but to fight the onslaught of military offensives and human rights violations resulting from these offensives.  Muslims are duty-bound by Islam to defend their communities against tyranny and to heed the cries of their fellow Muslims whenever they are oppressed. Even during Ramadhan, Muslims consider war as an option if provoked.

It is but right for the Moro people to continue their fight to attain justice to attain a genuine and lasting peace. The right to  life should never be compromised for any signed peace agreement.

“And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere.” (Qur’an, Chapter 8, Verse 39).