MANILA -- Initial findings of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) show that both the government troops and the Nur Misuari faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) violated human rights of civilians in Zamboanga City.
In an interview with "Mornings @ ANC" on Wednesday, CHR Commissioner Jose Manuel Mamauag said that based on the accounts of witnesses, Misuari's group used civilians as human shields.
Mamauag, who visited Zamboanga City, added that government security forces also committed human rights violations when they fired in the direction of the civilians as they were chasing the rebels.
"Those that we have collated and gathered particularly from the freed hostages, it says that meron din silang mga sinasabi na ang mga putok ay coming from the government forces lalo na nung ginawa silang human shields by the MNLF. So I would rather say that both sides...violated the standards of human rights," he said.
"Civilian population are not subject of military target... The MNLF has already violated the law on armed conflict by hostage-taking and then putting them into harm's way like human shields...and then nang ilabas sila according to the hostages, may tumitira sa kanila. Yun ang violation ng government," he added.
Mamauag said Misuari's group also violated the international treaty on the rights of the child because among the captured MNLF fighters were two boys under the age of 15.
One of them was a 15-year-old boy, who said his grandfather, a member of the rebel group, brought him to Zamboanga City to join what he thought was a peace rally.
He is currently undergoing stress debriefing and staying at the Children in Conflict with the Law Center with other juvenile delinquents. -- With ANC