Military to probe alleged burning of 2 mosques, 9 houses in Maguindanao
DAVAO CITY—The military on Saturday vowed to investigate a report by the militant group Suara Bangsamoro on the alleged burning of two mosques and 9 houses in Sitio Tampat in Barangay Pamalian in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao, by soldiers.
Jerome Succor Aba, Suara Bangsamoro spokesperson, said the house owners, who have evacuated to the neighboring village of Dapiawan in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town, have pointed to the members of the 8th Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT), who had encamped in the area in the last two weeks, as the culprit.
Suara said house owners Noraine Mohammad, Juharto Mohammad, Nanang Esmail, Aslamiya Adam, and Fatima Adam, noticed the fire at 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on March 18, from the evacuation center in Barangay Dapiawan.
“They saw smoke and flame in the area, where their houses were. It was there where the 8th MBLT had earlier encamped,” Aba said.
He said the following morning, the affected villagers went back and saw that their houses had been razed. Two mosques were also burned.
Capt. Jo-Anne Petinglay, spokesperson of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the incident would be investigated.
“We will investigate the allegations and will not tolerate those who made violations if there is any,” she said.
Petinglay said burning civilian structures was “not a part of the doctrines of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”
“Before the operation started, the troops were also reminded to respect human rights and to properly observe the rules of engagement and the international humanitarian law,” she said.
Suara said the burning of the civilian houses and the two mosques in the area violated provisions on the International Humanitarian Law, which protects the rights of civilians and noncombatants in armed conflicts.
“This is only one of the numerous violations of human rights, brought about by the all-out war waged by the Aquino administration against the Moro people,” Aba said. “As the number of evacuees swell to 123,000, their communities are turned into warzone, soldiers encamp in barangay halls, while their communities and livelihoods are relentlessly bombed and destroyed,” he said.
Suara also rallied support to its call against the all-out war in Maguindanao, which it said, had put in danger the lives of the Moro people.
“Until these all-out offensives continue, soldiers will continue to stay in Maguindanao, putting civilian lives under the persistent threats of being hit in the crossfire,” Aba said. With a report from Karlos Manlupig
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