COTABATO CITY, Philippines - Bangsamoro activists on Friday launched a protest rally in Cotabato City to remember the 40th anniversary of the declaration of martial law in the Philippines.
The activists, who came from Zamboanga City, Basilan, Zamboanga Sibugay, Davao City, and evacuees from Maguindanao province, held their protest at the Cotabato City plaza.
Around 50 evacuees participated in the rally and urged the national government to pull out its soldiers in the province.
"Nananawagan kami kay Pangulong Aquino na tanggalin na ang mga sundalo dito sa Maguindanao dahil mas lalo kaming nalalagay sa panganib, naapektohan na ang aming mga hanap buhay," an evacuee claimed.
Bai Ali Indayla, secretary-general of KAWAGIB human rights group, said there is no difference between the administration of President Benigno Aquino with former strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
"Si Marcos at si PNoy ay halos walang pinagkaiba kasi ang Maguindanao at Cotabato ay nasa ilalim parin ng state of emergency simula noong maganap ang Ampatuan massacre, at hanggang ngayon ay nasa state of emergency pa rin tayo, na nagiging sanhi ng sunod-sunod na paglabag sa mga karapatang pantao lalong lalo na sa mga residente ng Maguindanao na naipit noong kasagsagan ng gyera sa pagitan ng militar at BIFF," Indayla said.
Eleven people have been killed in firefights between the government troops and armed separatists led by Umbra Kato in the province in early August.
More than 10,000 families have been reportedly displaced because of the firefights.