Kidapawan City – A militant Muslim group in Mindanao has cautioned ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman against staging an all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Basilan.
Suara Bangsamoro president Amira Lidasan has expressed fears that Hataman’s announcement about his orders to track down the ASG at all costs could be prone to abuse of power by the authorities and could only lead to more cases of human rights violations.
Lidasan pointed out that it was the civilian community which suffered most in previous all-out war declarations and reeled from massive displacement of residents, death due to strafing and indiscriminate firing, destruction of properties, exposing women and children to harm. “In 2000 alone, the government unleashed a full-force attack against the Abu Sayyaf with the help of US troops deployed in the area through Balikatan Exercises, yet the biggest casualties were civilians while the real Abu Sayyaf continued their criminal activities,” she stressed.
Lidasan also accused Hataman of contradicting himself when, two years ago, he and the other ARMM governors pledged to “’never again” go on an all-out war policy in dealing with the armed groups like the ASG and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
In a statement, she reminded Hataman that in the previous military operations against the ASG, there were also reports of military clashes with the MILF who were also in the mountainous area of Basilan.
She also alleged that the reason why the ASG thrives is because of the perceived “collusion” between state authorities and the Abu Sayyaf in kidnap-for-ransom cases the latter perpetrated where ransom moneys were said to have been divided between the military and the kidnappers.