Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Army official changes tune on Sulu killings report

By Julie Alipala

The military Sunday said the report about the deaths of eight people, including two children and a pregnant woman in Maimbung, Sulu that it released last month was not yet final.

In a hastily conducted press conference here, Lt. Gen. Nelson Allaga, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said the report only covered the initial investigation and that the military had never cleared those involved.

The eight victims, one of them a vacationing soldier, were rounded up by the soldiers and deliberately killed, according to residents.

In its report, the military’s Inspector General (IG) said the operation conducted by the Navy’s special forces and the US-trained Light Reaction Co. in Barangay Ipil in Maimbung was legitimate.

“[The] ensuing gunbattle was a legitimate encounter between the enemies of the state and the government troops,” the IG said.

Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan said the findings had acquitted the soldiers involved in the massacre.
“The reports coming out were inaccurate,” Allaga said, stressing they never cleared the soldiers.
The report triggered outrage among officials and human rights groups.

A Moro human rights group based in Cotabato City said it was submitting the issue before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

Tan said the big number of civilian casualties during the raid was unacceptable.

But Allaga said the soldiers took so much care when they conducted the operation against the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in the area.

“The military operation was selective and deliberate and our troops were highly trained and properly equipped. There could have been more civilian casualties had [the] troops failed to follow the rules of engagement during the encounter,” he said.

Allaga also said two of the supposed civilians killed were actually Abu Sayyaf members Abu Baying and Abu Dyango. Baying was Ipil village councilor Eldisin Lahim.

Octavio Dinampo of the Tulong Lupah Sug said he had received reports that the military was trying to bribe the families of some of the victims to corroborate its claim about the encounter.

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