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‘IT'S A MASSACRE’

MILF decries Matalam drug raid that killed nine of its members


COTABATO CITY - The Moro Islamic Liberation Front is calling for a thorough impartial investigation into the killing of nine of its members in a recent anti-illegal drug operation in Matalam, North Cotabato.

Von Al Haq, spokesperson of Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), the armed wing of MILF, in a phone conversation said they would file a strong protest due to alleged abuses committed by raiding authorities during the conduct of a search warrant in Sitio Biao, Barangay Kilada in Matalam on Friday night.

The protest was submitted to the office of Mohagher Iqbal, chairman of the MILF Peace Implementing Panel, and would be sent to the government peace panel (GPH) and MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities for investigation.

Al Haq belied a police report that there was an encounter between government operatives and MILF. According to the police report, men arrived to reinforce the MILF and allegedly rescue a couple who was the target of the search warrant for an illegal drug offense.

“After they introduced they are MILF members in the area and yielded their firearms to authorities, they were shot helplessly. So how do we describe that? It’s a massacre,” Al Haq said.

The MILF also noticed no one was hurt if indeed they fought back and no illegal drugs were found in the area.

In fact according to Al Haq, the men killed were tapped by MILF as implementers of an anti-illegal drugs campaign.

They were members of 105th Base Command under Zacaria Goma.

The MILF identified the fatalities as Dadting Hassan, Muhamidin Hassan, Konne Hassan, Burrah Salping, Mualidin Salping, Tiyo Mantik, Orom Mantis, Deng Malunok, and certain Abu.

Three others were wounded including a woman.

Al Haq said there is an agreement signed between government security forces and MILF recently for proper coordination in MILF areas in the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations.

This is aside from the coordination in law enforcement operations inside MILF-identified territories under the Ad Hoc Joint-Action Group by joint GPH and MILF panels.

But a police official in the region, who refused to be quoted, said they did not mean to attack the MILF. He said they were only there to implement the court order.

“We have representatives in the joint ceasefire committee which the MILF had asked to probe on the incident and protocol dictates there are probe procedures set by the government and MILF," said Brigadier General Cerelito Sobejana, commander of 6th Army Division whose 7th Infantry Battalion provided support during the drug raid.

Al Haq said MILF mujahideen on the ground were deeply affected by the incident and the issue must be resolved sooner to ease future tensions.

“This incident seems like a prelude to a scenario which we feel may cause delay or another setback to peace negotiations just like what had happened in Mamasapano incident,” Al Haq said.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law is in the final deliberations stage this week in Congress. Amendments are expected to be included before it gets approved into law after decades of peace negotiations between the government and MILF. —KG, GMA News

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