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PRESS STATEMENT ON THE INDISCRIMINATE BOMBINGS OF
TEDURAY COMMUNITIES IN GUINDULUNGAN, MAGUINDANAO
Responding to an urgent request from the Teduray inhabitants in Sitios Fute, Keturanga and Tamatalun in Barangay Ahan, Guindulungan, Maguindanao, the Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement (MPPM), the Alyansa ng mga Mamamayan para sa Karapatang Pantao (AMKP) and the Lumad Development Center, Inc. (LDCI) sent a 19-member Study Mission to look into reported incidences of indiscriminate bombings of civilian Teduray communities and to assess the situation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the province of Maguindanao.
The Study Mission which visited the areas on May 17 to 19, 2009 documented the following:
- That indeed on May 1-4, 2009 and some nights up to May 15, inhabitants in Sitio Fute now temporarily residing in Sitio Mari in Barangay Ahan reported 46 rounds of mortar shellings. The mission members themselves saw at least 12 craters or huge holes created by such bombs and the bones of five (5) horses that were killed. Some houses were also hit by shrapnel. Fortunately no one was killed or injured.
- That as a result of such bombings, at least 60 families from the affected sitios have evacuated to Sitio Mari in Barangay Ahan, Guindulungan, Maguindanao and 33 others are now in evacuation camps in Semangkong, Talayan, Maguindanao.
- That as far as we could gather, there are no revolutionary camps in the area. However, we were told that insurgents only pass by occasionally.
- That the situation of internally displaced persons has worsened. In fact during our preparatory trip on May 14, 2009, Mayor Antaw Midtimbang of Guindulungan told us that 2,000 more families have been added to his original 4,000 family-evacuees in various evacuation camps. He further told us that nine (9) out of eleven (11) of his barangays are affected by the conflict. The Secretary to the Mayor of Talayan also told us in the same visit on May 14, 2009 that twelve (12) out of fifteen (15) of their barangays have been forced to evacuate to their three barangays along the highway.
- That according to Guindulungan officials, military elements have conducted illegal searches of houses in their town and have also engaged in indiscriminate bombings.
The Study Mission makes the following urgent recommendations and calls:
- That the contending military forces cease and desist from indiscriminate bombings of civilian communities.
- That the MILF/AFP troop movements do not endanger civilian communities by their movements and their armed confrontations.
- That both forces observe rules of warfare especially as outlined in international humanitarian law and other civilized rules/protocols of warfare.
- That the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front return to the negotiating table to find a lasting solution to the Mindanao conflict. We recommend further that the people be consulted on issues in the peace negotiations.
- That the Government of the Philippines through the National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples make the necessary steps to look into the welfare of the indigenous peoples in their ancestral domains.
- That aid agencies immediately send relief goods especially roofing for makeshift huts as well as food and medicines for the evacuees in Semangkong, Talayan and in Sitio Mari in Guindulungan, Maguindanao.
We call most urgently for action from the GRP and the MILF to prevent the escalation of the war by returning to the negotiating table and to lay all issues being raised by both sides as part of the agenda of the peace talks. In the meantime aid should be given to all IDPs!
ALVARO O. SENTURIAS, JR. TIMUAY SANNIE BELLO VHONG B. FENIS
Chair, MPPM LDCI Convenor, AMKP
Abdulbasit R. Benito
Bangsamoro Center for Justpeace in the Phil's. Inc.
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