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.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Operation vs Abu Sayyaf triggers clash with MNLF in Sulu

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines -- The military operation on Tuesday against Abu Sayyaf fighters in Sulu that led to the reported wounding of an extremist leader and his son also triggered a clash with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that sent more than 200 families fleeing.

But the Sulu provincial government, backed by civil society groups and non-government organizations, convinced the military and MNLF to disengage from the hostilities that broke out in Indanan town on Tuesday.

Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net) that as early as 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, they had tried to reach out to both groups.

Tan said they asked government forces to pull out of the area to end the hostilities.

He said the fighting finally subsided around 1 p.m. Wednesday after he talked with Brigadier General Juancho Sabban of Task Force Comet and Khaid Adjibun of the MNLF.

The military said Tuesday evening's assault in Sitio (sub-village) Marang in Barangay (village) Kagay was aimed against the Abu Sayyaf.

But MNLF members in the area denied the presence of the extremist fighters and said it was they who were fired on by government forces.

The MNLF was the largest Moro rebel group in Mindanao until it signed a peace agreement with the government in 1996.

Tan said with the end of hostilities, the provincial government was able to send its Area Coordinating Council's crisis committee to assess the situation in the affected village.

Affected residents have sought refuge in the villages of Bato-bato, Jariyah and Andihih.

Rahman Nair, international security advisor to the Geneva-based Center for Humanitarian Dialogue, said they have tried their best to prevent clashes between the military and the MNLF.

But Nair, who mans the CHD office in Jolo town, said they were informed Abu Sayyaf fighters were very near the MNLF camp.

"The military just culminated their operation against the Abu Sayyaf Group and there is no reported casualty either on the side of the MNLF or the civilians in the area," Nair said.

Major Eugene Batara Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) spokesman, quoting information reaching them, said Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and his son Tabari were wounded while at least one other extremist was killed.

He also said the extremists may have "suffered more casualties than what was reported to us," he said.

A lone soldier, whom he identified as Marine Lieutenant Daroy, was wounded.

However, the Tulung Lupah Sug, a non-government organization, said former MNLF members integrated into the military reported that seven Marines died and five others were wounded in the fighting.

Professor Octavio Dinampo, chief executive officer of the group, said the MNLF also suffered one dead and two wounded.(Julie Alipala, INQ.net)

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