The Armed Forces of the Philippines debunks claim of some villagers at Elian in Datu Saudi Ampatuan in Maguindanao that military artillery fires have caused destruction of some houses in their community. “Initial report from the field revealed that the adjacent house where the alleged artillery fire occurred remains intact, a sign that the damage could not have been caused by a 105mm high explosive blast,” the AFP said in a press statement.
Government forces said that when they were approaching the said community, the BIFF bombarded them with mortar fires, hitting the said houses. The military committed to help repair damaged houses.
AFP has earlier declared civilian communities as “No Fire Area” in accordance to military doctrines on indirect fire support. A “No Fire Area” is a zone where high explosive bombs from mortars, artilleries, and planes are not allowed to be used. It is the duty of the AFP to ensure that collateral damage is minimized during the conduct of intensified law enforcement operations against the BIFF, AFP said.
“We will continue to adhere to the Rules of Engagement and the provisions of the International Humanitarian Law to ensure that civilians are protected during the conduct of law enforcement operations,” the military added.