Peace Group Challenges Aquino: Probe Bombings, Military Connivance

The peace advocacy group InPeace Mindanao calls on authorities to probe thoroughly the three recent bombings in Cotabato City and Sultan Kudarat, and challenged the Aquino government to do what the hawkish Arroyo administration had failed to do: uncover alleged military-Abu Sayyaf connivance.

InPeace said hawkish responses to bombings are rehashed and not credible to the public since there is this perception.

The group also fears a possible crackdown or military offensives in the Moro communities after the Eid’l Fitr celebration that has been repeatedly occurring since Arroyo’s presidency.

“The bombings have caused alarm for the people in Mindanao, but the public should not be held hostage to a situation where questions linger as to how AFP weapons have found their way into the ASG arsenal, how local officials and the military brass are allegedly involved in kidnap-for-ransom activities by the bandit group,” says InPeace convenor Bishop Felix Calang of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI).

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Bishop Calang challenged authorities to “solve these bombings through efficient police work, and get to the bottom of these bombings which up to now have been shrouded in mystery.”

InPeace also challenges the Aquino government, “If he promises to bring the country to the daang matuwid, he should probe and uncover this alleged connivance, and clean up the AFP of hawks and terrorists in its ranks,” explains Calang.

“Unless this is rooted out by President Aquino, the cycle of draconian measures and human rights violations will repeat itself in Mindanao,” he added.

InPeace fears another military anti-terror drive will be revived similar to its campaign in 2003-2004 when mystery bombings rocked the Davao airport and seaports and other public places in cities and municipalities all over Mindanao.

“We don’t want a repeat these incidents of Moro communities being displaced, Moro civilians were wrongly accused, some even arrested and tortured by state security forces in this so-called ‘war on terror’,” says Bishop Calang.

InPeace also point out the military is fanning fears of terror attacks to beef up US armed presence in the region.

Calang said there is a direct relationship between terror scares and US presence in the country. “It appears that every time there is a major, major US presence in the country, the terror scare caused by the Abu Sayyaf Group is hyped,” Calang added.

He recalled the group’s Mindanao Truth Commission that linked to the possible collusion of high ranking military officers in instigating the bombings to justify the campaign and gain US military aid. He said the involvement of alleged Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operative Michael Meiring had been pinpointed as instigator of the series of bombings in Mindanao in 2003.

“This is what the public should be concerned about, that far from ensuring peace, militarism will lead to more repression and loss of innocent lives,” says Calang.#

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