Saturday, September 25, 2004

Statement on Magdalo Group's Apology

Press Statement
Promotion of Church People's Response (PCPR)

September 25, 2004

Reference: Rev. Fr. Allan Jose Arcebuche, OFM
National Co-Chairperson, PCPR Contact: 4107623

Challenge to Magdalo leaders: Continue the fight against corruption

We in the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) believe that whatever is the reason behind the Magdalo leaders’ apology, investigation on the rampant corruption in the military and involvement of the AFP in the series of bombings in Mindanao must be pursued.

It’s apparent that they apologized due to extreme pressure in detention including financial difficulties to support their families.

The Magdalo group accused former DND Secretary Angelo Reyes and former ISAFP chief Brig. Gen. Victor Corpus as the planners of the March 4, 2003 Davao International Airport and April 2, 2003 Sasa wharf bombings. The motives, they claimed, were to affect the listing of the MILF as a terrorist group and to pave the way for increasing US military financial and logistical aid. Through the Mindanao Truth Commission, an independent investigation on the Davao bombings initiated by Christian and Muslim leaders, the sworn affidavits of Capt. Milo Maestrecampo, Lt. Kristopher Yasay and Lt. Jose Dingle lent credence to the existence of a special order within the AFP to lob grenades at civilian targets. Again consistent with the Magdalo group’s exposé, the MILF was repeatedly blamed by the AFP for the Mindanao bombings, and US military presence in various parts of Mindanao through so-called anti-terror war games is ever increasing. In fact, Davao City is being targeted as venue of the next US-RP Balikatan exercises.

GMA, Gen. Reyes, Corpuz and all the guilty officers and leaders of the corrupt government have all the means to force the rebel soldiers to apologize and retract their statements. But our nation cannot truly heal as long as the issues exposed by the Magdalo group remain unresolved.

We challenge the Magdalo leaders and all the decent men and women in the AFP to continue the fight against corruption within the AFP and the government. Though their means in July 2003 were faulty and unacceptable, the message of the Oakwood mutineers against corruption was morally right and must not be simply buried in the nation’s collective memory. We continue to demand justice for the victims of bombings in Mindanao and for all Moro civilians who have become victims of profiling, forced disappearances, illegal searches and arrests. Police and military agents grossly violated due process in resorting to illegal arrest and detention in order to produce suspects, most of whom were Moro civilians.

According to the Mindanao Truth Commission, a total of 9 Moro civilians were abducted including Datu Sabdurah Ala of Ma-a Riverside, Davao City, on April 3, 2003; Ustadz Alimudin Zulkifle, 28, of Sirawan, Toril, Davao City, on April 6, 2003; Lajmar Jumdail, on April 10, 2003; Muslimen Maro, 38, a Maranao and a resident of Mini-Forest, Boulevard, Davao City on April 15, 2003, and a Juanita Ybanez. Four of them continue to be missing. Illegal searches were also conducted in the aftermath of the Davao bombings, such as the raids in Muslim Village and Open Space in Bangkal, Davao City on April 14, 2003. The abusive elements of the Davao Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Task Force Davao (TFD), and other state agents involved in these human rights violations must be punished along with the real culprits behind the series of Mindanao bombings.

N.B. The All UP Workers Union Manila supports the call that investigation on the rampant corruption in the military and involvement of the AFP in the series of bombings in Mindanao must be pursued even if the Magdalo group's leaders had already seeks an apology for their July 2003 caper. We are also in unison with PCPR in the challenge to the Magdalo leaders and all the decent men and women in the AFP to continue the fight against corruption within the AFP and the government. Indeed our nation can not truly heal and leap forward as long as the issues exposed by the Magdalo group remain unresolved.

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