US-backed airstrike displaces thousands of Moro families in Maguindanao

DAVAO CITY , Philippines — An airstrike in Shariff Aguak town in Maguindanao has displaced thousands of families, wounded three persons and left one civilian casualty in a bid to run after the rebels behind the twin bombings in Isulan town, Sultan Kudarat, an official of a Moro group said Tuesday.

Jerome Succor Aba, national chairperson of the progressive group SuaraBangsamoro, said the airstrike led by the Armed Forces of the Philippines on September 4 was assisted by elite US Special Forces, a move viewed by Aba as an intrusion on the country’s sovereign rights.

“We condemn President Rodrigo Duterte for committing treachery by violating the country’s sovereign rights by allowing US troops to participate in combat operations and sponsor genocidal attacks on Moro people such as in the recent aerial bombardments in Maguindanao in the name of the US-led war on terror,” Aba said in a statement.

The US-backed air strike, according to Aba, has forced 400 children and 50 pregnant women to leave their homes and seek shelter elsewhere for their own safety. “Historically, the presence and involvement of US troops in several Filipino military combat operations has left a large number of civilian casualties,” he said.

Suara cited the case of a Moro family who were massacred on February 2018 after elements of SWAG-8 and US-trained Light Reaction Company conducted a pre-dawn raid at Bgy. Ipil, Maimbong, Sulu. The military claimed that it was a legitimate encounter with the Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Added to these were the Mamasapano massacre on January 2015 and Marawi siege 2017, the Moro group said. “Both the US and the Philippine governments should be held liable for this death toll as the war on terror has imposed large-scale attacks against Moro people,” it said.

Suara demands a probe to look into the impact of what they call as US military intervention in Moro communities, specifically in Mindanao where US troops have bases in Camp Ranao in Marawi City and Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City.

“We believe that the deployment of US soldiers in Moro areas has exacerbated ‘terrorism’ in Mindanao. There should also be an investigation on the role of the US government in the creation of terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda, Abu Sayyaf Group and ISIS,” the group said.

Earlier this month, the US vowed that it would continue to support the anti-terror operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines following the deadly Sultan Kudarat bombings.

“At the request of the government of the Philippines, US special operations forces continue to assist the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Mindanao through support that increases intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities,” US Embassy spokeswoman Molly Koscina said in a September 2 statement.

Suara said that in the past, the AFP has received technological support from US personnel such as drone and satellite intelligence which was evident during the five-month Marawi siege.

“The US-Duterte regime has sown terror across Mindanao. This tyrannical regime has worsened our woes by imposing Martial Law in Mindanao, death and destruction of Marawi, deceptive peace policy, skyrocketing prices of basic commodities, injustices and plunder of Moro resources. It is high time for the Bangsamoro to take a stand on these issues. The continuing oppression and exploitation against the Bangsamoro must end,” the group said.

Reposted with photo from davaotoday.com