ZAMBOANGA CITY - The National Ulama Conference of the Philippines (NUCP) has urged authorities to probe the alleged massacre of 7 young men tagged by the military as members of the Abu Sayyaf Group.
"To restore trust and confidence of the people on their government especially on the AFP and the PNP that at all times, even under Martial Law, that the rule of law, human rights and international humanitarian law must be upheld and respected," NUCP regional secretary general Alih Aiyub said in a statement.
"Let this unfortunate event showcase that trust and confidence by giving justice to uncover truth-if indeed they were civilians of ASG, and massacred or legitimate encounter," Aiyub added.
Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, commander of Western Mindanao, maintained that the 7 men were killed during a legitimate operation of the military last Friday in Patikul town, Sulu and that they were not victims of a massacre.
Dela Vega said there was more than an hour of armed engagement with the Abu Sayyaf and that the area has been long abandoned by the residents will negate the fact that the soldiers were involved in the massacre.
Dela Vega added that 17 soldiers were wounded in the encounter.
Several bandits were also injured, including Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Hatib Sawadjaan.