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.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

MILF kills 9 villagers in Christmas eve raid

Nine people were killed and eight others were wounded after Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels attacked three towns in the provinces of Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat on Christmas eve, the military reported.

The fatalities and wounded have not yet been identified. The rebels also took hostage farmer Ramil Vicente, his wife and their two children.

Col. Julieto Ando, Army 6th Infantry Division spokesman, said troops have been sent to the scene to pursue the rebels.

Residents of Ninoy Aquino and Kalamansig in Sultan Kudarat province and Alamada in Cotabato province were preparing their noche buena or Christmas eve dinner when the MILF fired a continuous barrage of mortars at the three towns at around 7 p.m. Eight residents were reportedly killed.

Three barangays in Ninoy Aquino and two barangays in Kalamansig remain under MILF control, according to Ando.

In Alamada town, an elderly woman was killed when the MILF fired 60 mm and 81 mm mortars at Barangay Dato at about 10 p.m.

“This is an atrocity against innocent civilians,” Ando said.

At 9 p.m. the MILF fired mortars continuously for 15 minutes at a military detachment in Barangay Gayunga, Northern Kabuntalan town in Shariff Kabunsuan province.

Barangay Gayunga is on the border of Cotabato and Shariff Kabunsuan provinces.

Almost at the same time, the MILF unleashed 17 rounds of 60 mm mortars at a military outpost in Barangay Puyon, Pigcawayan town in Cotabato province.

No injuries were reported in the attacks on the military installations.

Cotabato Gov. Jesus Sacdalan said residents of a barangay fled their homes when armed men attacked Aleosan town in Cotabato province at about 9 p.m. on Christmas eve.

“The attacks came while the people were setting off firecrackers. The attackers timed their attacks during the revelry,” said Alamada Mayor Ernesto Concepcion.

Eight people living near the military detachment in Alamada were taken to the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center after they were hit by flying shrapnel.

However, Eid Kabalu, MILF civil-military chief, denied the military report that they attacked the three towns in Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato provinces.

“All these incidents took place because the MILF were subjected to attacks by the military,” he said.

Kabalu said the MILF had not launched a coordinated offensive on Christmas eve as the military claims.

“In all incidents, we were on defensive mode,” he said.

As many as 400 families fled their homes after the MILF attack, according to social welfare officer Edmund Cordero.

More than 600,000 people were displaced in the fighting, he added.

Maj. Randolph Cabangbang, Armed Forces Eastern Mindanao Command spokesman, said the attack on barangays Midtungok and Kiadsam in Cotabato province were spearheaded by Guiabar Datu Kali alias Commander 511 and Commander Maxs4.

“The 601st brigade already launched combat operations in the area,” he said. “They have also requested for an air strike against the rebels.”

The MILF is starting to withdraw from the occupied communities, according to Col. Marlou Salazar, Army 601st Infantry Brigade commander.

This was the second time that barangays Midtungok and Kiadsam were occupied since the attacks in Cotabato and Lanao del Norte provinces last August. (By John Unson And James Mananghaya; Philstar News Service, www.philstar.com)

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