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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Moro villagers in Lanao Sur flee before Army offensive

MORO groups want the military offensive in Butig, Lanao del Sur against suspected members of the Maute group halted, saying the operations are forcing thousands of villagers to flee from their communities.

The Philippine Army launched the operations Thursday, May 26.

Two soldiers and 22 supposed members of the armed group have been killed.

Jerome Aba, spokesperson of the Suara Bangsamoro, said the attack by government troops on the members of the Maute group has forced thousands of villagers to flee from their communities.

“This is a continuing attack on the Moro people,” Jerome Aba, spokesperson of the Suara Bangsamoro, said.

Aba said the military operations were launched in spite President-elect Rodrigo Duterte' call for the resumption of the peace negotiations with armed rebels, especially in Mindanao.

He said Suara Bangsamoro is set to conduct fact-finding mission in Butig to investigate what really happened prior to the clashes between the Maute group and government soldiers.

“We will be there (Butig) to help our Moro brothers and sisters,” Aba said, adding that they will join other groups to persuade the government to pull out their troops in the area.

For his part, Drieza Lininding, vice chairman of the Bangsamoro National Movement for Peace and Development, in his Facebook page said “I don’t believe in military solutions, only a negotiated political settlement can address the problem here in Mindanao.”

Lininding said he is hoping that “the needs of the IDPs [internally displaced persons] are being taken care of. We know how difficult it is to leave one’s house and livelihood.”

“Let us hope for a peaceful resolution, personally I don’t believe in military solutions, it only breeds more hatred and conflicts,” he added.

Lininding said they are appealing to Duterte to address this issue.

In separate statements, both Aba and Lininding consider the Maute group as “freedom fighters.”

Aba said he believes the Maute group is not a terrorist cell nor are they affiliated with the Islamic State.

Aba denied reports that there are terrorist cells operating in Mindanao.

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