COTABATO CITY – The Suara Bangsamoro organization here stages a march-rally today and calls for the respect of democratic rights of the Bangsamoro people in observance of the 59th Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948.

Bai Ali Indayla, the group’s national secretary-general said, “Despite various agreements and declarations on human rights around the world, violations continue to persist and the Bangsamoro people were not spared to such abuses.”

“Under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration, the Bangsamoro people suffer almost all forms of human rights violations. Men, women and children are victims of terrorist tagging, bombing suspects, massive evacuations, strafing, abduction, torture and many other human rights violations,” Indayla enumerated.

According to KAWAGIB, a Moro human rights organization, 21cases of human rights violations committed by the Philippine military, police and intelligence agents against the Moro people from January to November 2007 alone. These include violation of civil and political rights, violation of right to life and violation against property. (See the Cases of Moro Human Rights Violations – 2007 Report prepared by the Kawagib Moro Human Rights Organization).

On the same period, more than 75,000 Moro civilians have been displaced in Basilan, Sulu and Midsayap, North Cotabato. Sulu was the hardest hit by a combination of ground troops commandos and indiscriminate aerial bombardment, with a total of 58,500 persons displaced due to three military operations conducted by Task Force Comet (a combined units from the Philippine Marines, Army, Airforce and CAFGUs) against the forces of MNLF Sulu State Chairman Khaid Ajibun and MNLF leader Ustadz Habier Malik on the pretext that they are colluding with Abu Sayyaf Group and JI militants or they are coddling them in their territories. The military operations have affected nine (9) municipalities in Sulu this year.

Basilan was hit on July because of a false report that kidnapped victim Fr. Giancarlo Bossi was seen in an MILF territory in Basilan. Elements of the Philippine Marines under the Task Force Thunder of Brig. Gen. Juancho Sabban, entered the camps of Basilan MILF chair Ustadz Hamsa Sapanton without informing the local committee on the cessation of hostilities, hence the MILF forces engaged the Marines in a firefight. The encounter ended in a controversial incident where 10 elements of the Marines were found decapitated in Albarka municipality, prompting reprisal by the military. That operation and the Marines reprisal have forced almost 15,000 individuals to evacuate from three municipalities in Basilan.

Karapatan, an alliance of human rights organizations around the country, also recorded 887 victims of extrajudicial killings and 185 victims of enforced disappearances since Arroyo’s seat on January 21, 2001. Figures exclude victims of abduction, illegal arrests, torture and arbitrary detention.

Meanwhile, Indayla slams President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for squandering millions of pesos in her travels around the world. The Commission on Audit (CoA) shows that Arroyo is an extravagant spender on her multiple travels abroad.

“It’s just so easy for Arroyo to spend some P482 million for her travel expenses alone while giving little budget for the poor people in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. She has the nerve to splurge such exaggerated amount together with his family or much loved lawmakers while neglecting the needs of the impoverished Bangsamoro people especially in the remote areas of the autonomous region,” Indayla exclaimed.

Suara Bangsamoro also criticizes President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s human rights award from Alcala de Henares University in Spain recently. The group deems the award as “disrespect” to Bangsamoro martyrs who shed blood in upholding their democratic rights and right to self-determination.

“That is a mockery to all human rights advocates, both Muslims and Christians, who persistently struggles for human rights and to all martyrs who died fighting for their rights,” Indayla stressed.

In commemoration to Human Rights day, Suara Bangsamoro pays tribute to all martyrs and human rights champion who relentlessly fights for the advancement of human rights.

Along with KAWAGIB and Liga ng Kabataang Moro, the group with a crowd of about a thousand, march from Cotabato City State Polytechnic College to Cotabato City Plaza. A short rally and cultural presentation follow showcasing the plights and experiences of the Bangsamoro people under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s bogus presidency. #

December 10, 2007
For reference: Bai Ali Indayla, National Secretary-General, Mobile # 0921.906.4699