Unveiling the truth behind the war in Mindanao

Unveiling the truth behind the war in Mindanao

Say HRVs against detainees evident in independent probe held.

Say HRVs against detainees evident in independent probe held.

The medical mission conducted last March 18, 2005 by MORO-CHRISTIAN PEOPLES ALLIANCE (MCPA), SUARA BANGSAMORO & KARAPATAN for the wounded inmates in Camp Bagong Diwa “led to our having substantial proof that the assault team wielded excessive use of violence against the detainees”, said Cosain Naga Jr. secretary general of SUARA BANGSAMORO Partylist.

He said that the detainees stated that what they saw is almost like a “massacre” against all of them. Helpless inmates were “mercilessly killed” despite shouting “sibilyan kami” (we are civilians). Special Action Force (SAF) operatives indiscriminately fired at inmates even when they were already faced down to the ground, replying “pare-parehas kayong mga Muslim!” (All of you Muslims are just the same!). The detainees claimed that after the assault, they received many blows, kicks and harsh remarks from SAF while parading them to the ground almost naked and wearing only briefs, and left them under the scorching heat of the sun for almost two hours. After that, some of them were detained in isolation chambers, and were given food only the next day.

The Moro people expressed outrage over the outcome of crisis, condemning the government for “unjustifiable” display of force to neutralize and normalize the situation. “The government has fought terror with terror,” Naga said, adding “No maximum restraint was done, we saw overkill! The assault team was no different from executioners sent to levy the detainees’ death sentence when most of them are not Abu Sayyaf and are in no way responsible for the attempted jailbreak.”

Naga decried that “peaceful means were not exhausted to the fullest in consideration of the more than 400 detainees in the building who were not responsible for the hostage taking. If the government forces’ motive was to uphold the safety of the detainees, the negotiations could have been allowed more time and more sobrieties. However, it seems that the negotiations were merely used to justify a more brutal assault that ended into carnage.”

Naga added that families of victims killed in the assault operation asked assistance from SUARA BANGSAMORO & Moro-Christians Peoples Alliance (MCPA) during the siege, fearing for the lives of their relatives who were not part of the jail uprising. SUARA further declared that there was ample evidence of “blunder” in the way the government resorted to bloody assault, “disregarding” the lives of other inmates who may get caught in the crossfire. The group confirmed that with more than 400 inmates detained at Metro Manila Rehabilitation Center in Bicutan Taguig, only 129 were suspected as Abu Sayyaf elements, 73 of which were illegally arrested and could be military fall guys following the military crackdown in Basilan last 2001 as ordered by Pres. Gloria Arroyo.

SUARA explained how the government, through the Crisis Management Team led by Interior Secretary Angelo Reyes became criminally culpable for the innocent lives “sacrificed by their bloody resolve”. Naga stated that “police authorities earlier declared that there were only 8-10 Abu Sayyaf involved in the jail outbreak and siege, but after the smoke cleared, they presented us 22 casualties allegedly all ASG men who died with guns in their hands. But how can they explain the death of an old man suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and the other victims and wounded inmates they denied with medical attention?”

Naga also added that “the police failed to prove that the hostage-takers were heavily armed with long firearms as what they have announced prior the assault, which they used as reason, why they stormed the building in such excessive use of force. Police officials, however, said that they have only recovered 8 handguns and 2 unexploded grenades, so where are the M-16’s rifles they contended to have been possessed by the armed ASG?”

SUARA BANGSAMORO expressed “condemnation” over the actions of identified Abu Sayyaf bandits who led the bloody outbreak in Bicutan. But it also added that “the notoriety of ASG was matched by the barbarity exemplified by the Arroyo government. What happened after the hostage-crisis is a clear indication of rubout. We have suspicions why all the detained Abu Sayyaf leaders died including Commander Robot who cannot even help himself to stand. Though, they deserve to be punished for the criminal acts they have committed, still they must be respected of their rights to live and presumed innocent unless proven guilty.”

Naga also addressed fellow Muslim brothers and members of the Crisis Committee, ARMM Governor Farouk Hussein and Rep. Mujib Hataman “to shed light on how the negotiating panel handled the crisis and who called the shots that led to more grievous ends”.

At this point, after the Bicutan crisis, the SUARA BANGSAMORO, Moro-Christian Peoples Alliance (MCPA) and KARAPATAN, and the families of the victims demand the fair and honest investigation to be conducted by an independent investigating body outside the control of the DILG and the Arroyo government “An independent probe would surely confirm overkill unless there will be whitewash”, Naga said.

“We demand an immediate probe for overkill in the Bicutan crisis to be conducted by an independent investigating body. Right now we fear for a possible whitewash,” Naga said.

secretary general
48 A Mapagbigay St. brgy. Pinyahan Diliman Q.C.
Tel No. 4337025