A Philippine Human Rights NGO providing Psychosocial Services and Rehabilitation to Internally Displaced Persons and Survivors of Torture and Organized Violence.

STATEMENT: An Appeal For the Concerned Authorities to Uphold Civilian Protection in the Ongoing Military Operations Against the BIFF and to Establish Durable Solutions to the Conflict in the Bangsamoro

As a network of humanitarians, peace advocates, and human rights defenders, we call on concerned local government units and the military authorities to uphold humanitarian protection and to take steps to ensure civilian safety and welfare in the ongoing military campaign against the members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in and around the Liguasan Marsh in North Cotabato and Maguindanao.

We appeal to the mandated organizations who are committed to human rights to immediately hold a non-partisan investigation on the reported deaths of a 14-year old boy and a pregnant woman at the height of mortar shelling operations in Lower Idtig in Gen. Salipada K. Pendatun municipality on June 16, 2018 and the killing of an elderly and a 13-year boy during a military raid in Sitio Makantal, Olandang, Midsayap, North Cotabato on June 12, 2018.

At the same time, we remind rebel fighters to refrain from taking actions that endanger the lives of the civilians and non-combatants as they can be held accountable for violations of humanitarian laws and human rights standards governing armed conflict situations.

The clashes between the soldiers and the BIFF members have resulted to the displacement of more than 3,000 families from the villages of Dalgan, Buliok and Kalbugan in the town of Pagalungan, Maguindanao. They sought refuge in the old market and an elementary school in the town center and later moved to the neighboring municipality of Datu Montawal, Maguindanao. 

We call the attention of concerned authorities to verify reports that soldiers and public officials are asking the evacuees to return to their places of origin despite the ongoing aerial bombings in nearby areas. We ask the duty-bearers and other stakeholders to take into consideration the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (UNGPID) in handling the situations of the internally displaced persons.

As essential and sustainable measures to attain durable solutions to the recurrent issue of internal displacement in security-challenged areas in Mindanao, we enjoin everyone to support the enactment into law of the version of a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that will correct the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro  and fulfill their legitimate right to self-determination.

We also call for the passage of the Internal Displacement Act to set into law the obligation of duty-bearers and stakeholders in the prevention of involuntary displacement and the protection and promotion of the rights and welfare of civilians affected by man-made and natural disasters, including situations of complex emergencies.

We request the media people to always exercise peace journalism and refrain from distorting the truth in covering the conflict in the Bangsamoro in order not to add more to the agony and sufferings of the hapless victims.

Supporting Organizations:

  1. Balay Rehabilitation Center
  2. Bantay Ceasefire
  3. Cotabato Alliance for Moro Concerns (CAMCI)
  4. Cotabato Center for Peace and Development (CCPDI)
  5. Community-based Peace and Protection Center (CBPPC) – North Cotabato and Maguindanao
  6. Early Warning Early response (EWER)
  7. Grassroots Against Poverty and Hunger (GAP-HUNGER)
  8. Integrated Mindanawon Association of Natives (IMAN)
  9. Local Initiatives for Peace and Development (LIPAD)
  10. Mindanao Young People for Peace (MyPeace)
  11. North Cotabato Coalition of Organizations (NCCO)
  12. North Cotabato Composite Team of CSOs (NCCT-CSO)
  13. Oblate of Mary Immaculate Foundation-Inter-Religious Dialogue (OMFI- IRD)
  14. Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
  15. SUARA Kalilintad
  16. Tiyakap Kalilintad Incorporated (TKI)- North Cotabato and Maguindanao
  17. United Youth for Peace and Development  Cluster 1, 2 & 3 (UNYPAD)