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Stop The War!
[Fr. Mercado is President of the Notre Dame University in Cotabato City and Head of the Independent Fact-Finding Committee of the GRP-MILF Peace Talks]
Today, Wednesday, May 3rd, is the 5th day of the raging battles between the GRP and the MILF forces.
1. The fighting has escalated in the following areas as of this writing:
1.1. the municipalities of Kapatagan and Balabagan are now within the flash points. As of this morning there are fighting in the two said municipalities and evacuees are pouring to the poblacion.
1.2. Fighting in the municipalities of Aleosan and Pikit continues today for the second day... That portion of the main highway Cotabato City Davao remains closed. Evacuees continue to increase in Pikit Poblacion.
1.3. Fighting in Carmen continues thus closing the Sayre Highway between Carmen and Bukidnon. Evacuees are in poblacion Carmen.
1.4. Fighting in Talayan has renewed closing the Cotabato City - Isulan Road.
1.5. The highway between Koronadal - Gen. Santos is also blocked... thus temporarily closing that important artery.
2. This morning at about 4:15 a.m., the Camp Siongco, the home of 6th Infantry Division was under mortar attacks. Also this morning, the Marine Brigade Headquarter at SPDA was also under mortar attack. What this attack brings about... we don't know yet... The MILF spokesperson sees this as part of the escalation of the present conflict between the GRP and the MILF.
3. The Battle in Matanog is still being fought with the use of heavy artillery, mortars and massive ground troops on both sides... This is the fifth day of the fierce battle... the positions of both sides have NOT moved from its original position notwithstanding aerial and ground bombardment... The MILF forces are holding to the last man, woman and children ....
What is happening is very tragic! For a 10 to 15 kilometers stretch of Narciso Ramos Highway (in the middle of nowhere and leads to nowhere!!!!), human casualties (killed and wounded) are mounting, massive displacement of civilian population, closing practically of all major highways!
Why choose the military OPTION when military solution is NO solution at all! There are no victors in war.... only casualties! The people who decide on the policy are NOT residents of MINDANAO.... We people of Mindanao are simple numbers in the equation! We are labeled as collateral damage in asserting the so-called sovereignty over the 10 to 15 kilometers stretch of Narciso Ramos Highway!
People and Leaders of Mindanao... we must NOT allow the people in the central government to dictate the policy on us...!
1. Stop the WAR!
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