Thursday, July 02, 2009

Mindanao refugee shelters infiltrated by rebels: Military

Muslim refugees lined up for food ration. (Mindanao Examiner Photo / Mark Navales)

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 2, 2009) – After displacing tens of thousands of civilians, the Philippine Army now said that Moro rebels have infiltrated refugee shelters in Mindanao.

Colonel Jonathan Ponce, a spokesman for the 6th Infantry Division, said rebels have posed as refugees and they are the MILF’s reserved force.

He also said that food ration intended by the World Food Programme to refugees were being diverted to the MILF after troops recovered some of the aid from captured rebel bases in Maguindanao province, scene of bloody battle between security forces and guerrillas in recent months.

“Based on the proofs, indications, and observations presented, there seems to be a diversion of relief goods from the supposed ‘IDP’ beneficiaries to the MILF,” he said.

Ponce said there had been increased attacks and bombings near refugee camps, bolstering suspicion that the MILF have been using the evacuation centers as a springboard for military offensive against government forces.

“Terrorist actions are executed within the immediate environs of the IDP (internally displaced people) centers,” he said.

But the MILF denied Ponce’s allegations and branded them as propaganda.

“It is a black propaganda, but nobody believes Ponce’s lies anymore. We have been calling for an independent probe into the killings of many civilians by soldiers and the burning of houses by the military.”

“The military’s campaign to crush the MILF has resulted in a humanitarian tragedy with tens of thousands of Muslims being forced out of their villages by indiscriminate army shelling and human rights violations. The United Nations and the OIC (Organization of Islamic Conference) and the World Muslim League should look into these carnage,” said Eid Kabalu, a senior MILF leader.

The MILF said more than 600,000 have been displaced by the fighting in Mindanao since last year after peace talks collapsed in August. The rebels accused Manila of reneging on a Muslim homeland deal, which the Supreme Court said was unconstitutional.

After the talks collapsed, rebel forces raided several towns and killed and wounded dozens of people in Lanao and North Cotabato provinces. The MILF is the Philippines largest Muslim rebel group fighting for independence in the restive, but mineral-rich region of Mindanao. (Mindanao Examiner)

No comments: