SULU MASSACRE (Mindanao, Philippines)
Anak Mindanao | 02.10.2008
“Despicable, loathsome, ruthless…” These were the words of Anak Mindanao Representative Mujiv S. Hataman on the latest tragedy in the province of Sulu , particularly in the coastal town of Maimbung , which claimed the lives of a 4-year old child, Marisa Payian, 9 year old Wedme Lahim, teenagers Alnalyn Lahim, 15 and Sulayman Hakob, 17. Three other civilians were also killed, Kirah Lahim, 45; Eldisim Lahim, 43 and Narcia Abon, 24. A certain Pfc. Ibnul Wahid of the Army's 6th Infantry Division who was said to be on vacation was also killed.
Reports quoted Sulu Anti-Terror task force Commander Maj. Gen. Ruben Rafael claiming that it was a legitimate encounter, a clash between the military troops and Jema’ah Islamiyah, as the former was searching for kidnapped trader Rosalie Lao.
Hataman however lamented that whatever the purpose of the military or the reason for the encounter was, it still does not justify the death of innocent civilians. “Walang anumang dahilan o rason, lalong-lalo na ang mga sundalo na dapat sana’y tagapagtanggol ng sambayanan, upang pumatay ng mga inosenteng sibilyan, lalong-lalo na ng mga bata!” Hataman said.
“The military also cannot fool us by saying that these civilians were probably caught in the crossfire. For heaven’s sake, we are talking of eight people here, four of whom are minors. Are they saying that these eight people all stood between them and whoever it was they were fighting? Besides, it is their responsibility to ensure that there will be no civilian casualties. This alibi only serves as a self-confession by the military on how reckless their soldiers are,” Hataman further said.
The Muslim representative also doubted the other theory of the military that the casualties were victims of an encounter between warring families. “Although Sulu had its share of clan conflicts, the concept of Rido is not as prevalent in the Tausog culture as it is in other Moro ethnic groups. Moreover, in the interviews by news reporters, the families of the victims who witnessed what we now call massacre, identified the soldiers as perpetrators,” he said.
Hataman has filed a House Resolution seeking for an urgent investigation of this latest incident in Sulu.
“There are reports that the military will be conducting an investigation on this incident, however, given the conflicting theories presented by the military, the witnesses and the provincial government, we believe that there is a need for an independent House investigation. I hereby call on and enjoin my colleagues in the House of Representatives to support this urgent Resolution and give justice to the victims of this Sulu tragedy, especially the innocent children,” Hataman said.
February 6, 2008
HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 438
Filed on February 6, 2008
Introduced by HON . MUJIV S. HATAMAN of Anak Mindanao (AMIN) Party List
RESOLUTION FOR AN URGENT CONGRESSIONAL INQUIRY BY THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RIGHTS INTO THE SULU MASSACRE INCIDENT ALLEGEDLY COMMITTED BY ELITE FORCES OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES LAST FEBRUARY 4, 2008
WHEREAS, in a national broadsheet (The Philippine Daily Inquirer), Sulu Provincial Government accused government troops of killing eight civilians, including two children and a pregnant woman, in an island village of Maimbung town last February 4, 2008, and is mourning such senseless killing of their people;
WHEREAS, this incident, dubbed by the people of Sulu as a “massacre,” was earlier claimed by the military as “legitimate encounter” with the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya elements, and the civilians affected might have died in the crossfire;
WHEREAS, however, the bodies earlier presented by the military as Abu Sayyaf members were civilians to include a pregnant woman. More unfortunate circumstance are facts that one of the cadavers brought to the Jolo town proper was clothed only in her underwear, and that one of the victims is an Army sergeant made to lie flat on his stomach and shot twice in the head in front of his wife;
WHEREAS, such reprehensible and barbaric acts committed allegedly by Elite Forces of the Armed Forces against innocent civilians is highly condemnable;
WHEREAS, an independent and thorough investigation to determine the facts and truth behind this incident is URGENTLY and SIGNIFICANTLY necessary, especially on alleged non-validation of military intelligence report leading to the senseless killing of innocent civilians, to include children;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED that the Committee on Human Rights be directed to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the Sulu “massacre” allegedly committed by Elite Forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines last February 4, 2008 in the town of Maimbung.
(sgd) HON. MUJIV S. HATAMAN