11 February 2005

News From the Battlefront in Sulu, Southern Philippines

2 Colonels, 100 Soldiers of the AFP Killed in Heavy Fighting with Moro Guerrillas

The NDFP International Information Office releases the following reports received from the battlefront in Sulu, southern Philippines.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) suffered heavy losses in the past three days of fighting against Moro guerrilla fighters in Sulu, Southwestern Mindanao in the Philippines. The Moro guerrillas are identified in Manila newspapers as followers of Nur Misuari, former chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

More than 100 AFP soldiers, including officers Lt. Colonel Dennis Villanueva of the 53rd Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Philippine Army (PA) and Col. Mamarin of the 55th IB, were killed in fierce Moro resistance to escalated attacks by the AFP in the province of Sulu Province. The number of AFP soldiers wounded are said to be in their hundreds.

The AFP attacks, which started in the municipality of Patikol, have now spread to Panamao, Parang, Indanan and Maimbong.

In Patikol, the muhahideen fighers led by Commander Radiulan Sahiron, a famous one-armed Moro fighter, captured one army tank. A Tora-Tora bomber, a helicopter, four heavy tanks and one army transport truck belonging to the reactionary army have been destroyed.

The AFP is finding it hard to send reinforcements to its embattled troops because of simultaneous fighting and ambushes by the guerrilla fighters in all the affected municipalities. Red Cross personnel are having difficulties recovering more bodies of the soldiers and civilians due to the heavy fighting.

Meanwhile, numerous civilians are victims of indiscriminate incessant air and ground bombardment. They are being misrepresented as combatants or considered as collateral damage. The AFP attacks have also displaced more than 3000 civilians who have fled to safer areas.

As expected, the Manila government and the AFP are imposing a news blackout on Sulu to hide the truth about the AFP casualties and its attacks on civilians. Together with the US, the Macapagal-Arroyo government has once again used the “terrorist bogey” to justify attacks on Moro territory and civilians.

They are also spreading the lie that the Moro guerrillas are asking for a ceasefire which the AFP purportedly rejects. In fact, it is the Manila government which is asking for a ceasefire. House Speaker Jose de Venecia has sent an emissary, a former member of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), to negotiate a truce.

The attacks of the AFP are yet another in a long series of violations of the GRP’s ceasefire agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Its indiscriminate bombardment of civilians and the civilian population is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and Protocol II additional thereto. The Republic of the Philippines is a state party to these international accords. #

Reference: Ruth de Leon
Executive Director
NDFP International Information

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